Election Season Survival Kit

12522068044_b73c88f4e9_zToday is Super Tuesday, and here in Massachusetts I’m headed to the polls to cast my ballot in the Presidential Primary. I’ve become a political junkie this election season. So much hangs in the balance for our country.

I do my best to keep on top of political news and analysis, but being a responsible citizen is also raising my blood pressure and keeping me awake at night. This is not good for anyone, whether you have scleroderma or not.

So I’ve discovered a few antidotes to election season stress, which I share with you, Dear Reader, in the hopes that we all can keep our sanity while doing our civic duty, staying informed and voting:

  1. Get the facts. Forget the misinformation, innuendo, insults, lies, Twitter rants and Facebook memes that have characterized this race so far. Find a reliable source of balanced reporting that goes beyond hyperventilating pundits and hysterical headlines. I recently discovered Nate Silver’s 538 website, which provides insightful, nuanced election analysis through a careful examination of polling data. It’s solid reporting. Reading their posts each morning helps me breathe and stay focused.
  2. Exercise. There is nothing like a walk in fresh air to clear my head of election season angst—that, and my Pilates class, or walking the indoor track and riding the bike at the gym. I can’t recommend it highly enough, whatever your favorite form of exercise. Just do it.
  3. Listen to great music. When I feel like I’m getting too wound up or depressed about the latest outrageous political headline, I immerse in wonderful music. Here’s one of my favorites, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, performed by Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Symphony (click on the link if you can’t see the embedded video):
  4. Watch Fred Astaire dance with Ginger Rogers. Simply the best, guaranteed to make you smile, regardless of what’s weighing on your mind, political or otherwise. Here’s a number from their 1936 classic, Swing Time, a great tap dance to “Start All Over Again” (again, just click on the link if you can’t see the video here):
  5. Look for the good in others. Despite all the darkness and truly depressing news we hear every day, and all of the candidates’ dire predictions about the future if we don’t heed their warnings, there are still good people out there doing good things. Keep perspective with a dose of positive stories from sites like David Freudberg’s Humankind.

None of this is to say we shouldn’t take this presidential election seriously. This is certainly the most important presidential race of my lifetime, one that will define the direction of this country for years to come. It’s never been more crucial to be an informed citizen and participate in the electoral process.

But it’s also essential not to get swept up in all the Sturm und Drang—especially when you’re managing a chronic disease like scleroderma that’s exacerbated by stress.

Hope this helps. And God bless America. Please.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.

Image Credit: DonkeyHotey via Flickr Creative Commons

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