Cupids Health

Stressed about the election? You’re not alone. How to stay calm ahead of Nov. 3


With the presidential election less than a week away, scores of Americans divided by their support for President Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden also are united.

“The commonality between us all is that we’re stressed about the election,’’ William Heckman, executive director of The American Institute of Stress, told USA TODAY.

Stress triggers the release of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, which Heckman said affects mood, motivation, and fear.

“It works with parts of your brain and the physiology of your body,’’ he said. “You need some of that (cortisol) to be motivated. But too much of that, you live in a state of ongoing anxiety, which is very bad for you.’’

Three mental health professionals interviewed by USA TODAY offered tips for managing stress leading up to Election Day.

‘MASTER YOUR MORNING’

Nefertiti Nowell, a licensed clinical professional counselor in the Chicago metropolitan area, subscribes to this motto: “If you can master your morning, you can master your day.’’

She recommends brief stretching exercises and writing down something you’re grateful for — preferably a new source of gratitude every day. Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can be added to the morning ritual, but it’s not necessary, according to Nowell.

“I’ve learned that if it’s anything over five minutes, people are less likely to do it,’’ she said. “Everybody has three minutes to get their blood flowing. And so if we take those three minutes to do that, then it really gets us centered for that day.

“It’s more about mental health than it is just physical health. It’s getting the blood flowing for the body but even for you to say, ‘I have control over something. I’ve got control over three minutes of my morning.’ ”

More: Native Americans battle COVID-19 and other voting obstacles as Election Day nears

THE 4-7-8 BREATH

JaNaé Taylor, a counselor in Virginia Beach, Va., said she recommends deep breathing and one of her favorite breathing exercises is called the “4-7-8 breath.’’





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