Stress Relief

- by Pati Nagle

This election is making me nuts. All the commercials, junk mail, news coverage, calls from pollsters. There’s a lot of anxiety in the air these days, and a lot of anger, too. It all gives me a stomach ache.

Many people are obsessed and stressed out, and I can’t help but get caught up in it. I catch myself checking the news several times a day, something I don’t usually do.

Fortunately, I have the perfect escape. I’m a writer. I have to go write now, thanks.

And away I go, to play in a fantasy world free of campaigning and flag-waving. My characters have their own stresses, but as I am in complete control of them, these do not make my gut hurt.

A while back I made a commitment to write a minimum of two pages a day, every day, rain or shine, sick or well, birthday or holiday. I’ve done it for a few years now, and I’ve got to say that it’s really helpful at times like this. If I’m obsessing over news coverage of some disaster (Hurricane Katrina is an example), my obligation to write each day forces me to turn off the news and leave it behind for a time. This is a very good thing, I’ve found.

Of course, writing every day may not be the best strategy for everyone. We all have to find the methods that are most effective for us.

If the news and election stress are getting to you, though, I humbly suggest leaving it behind for a while. Shut down the browser and the email, turn off the TV and the radio news, unplug the phone, put on some evocative music or enjoy the silence.

And write.

8 comments

  1. I will be so glad when all this election junk goes away.
    I am not a writer, so I pick up a book and read when the stress gets to me.

  2. That, too, is an excellent way to get away.

    Thanks, Estella!

  3. Writing is a great way to relieve stress. But you are right we all have to find what we enjoy most to get away from what is happening. I like to take my dog for a walk or play fetch with her. She is quite the goofball!

  4. I think there are lots of ways to escape the election craziness (and I can’t say I know anyone who’s not stressed about it), but I love your suggestion to be productive rather than do something else to whittle away the time. As a grad student and editor, I have multiple escapes from the madness, writing, reading, and editing included. I don’t know about you, though, but I find when I’m stressing about politics that my writing tends to follow that line.

  5. Jen – Getting outside is another good way to escape the stress. Exercise! Yes!

    Nancy – Maybe because I’m usually writing in a fantasy setting that has little or nothing to do with our modern world, the politics don’t usually follow me. They can, though.
    I hear you! (Maybe it’s time for a game of fetch!)

  6. I hear you! OTOH, it’s now 11/4, and coming back from the polls today, I heard my upstairs neighbor call down to me from his balcony, asking if I’d voted. He was all smiles and grins… because this was his first US election as a naturalized citizen, and his first time voting as an American. His excitement about that made me remember what voting is really supposed to be about; and that’s clearly what my first-time-voter new-citizen neighbor was thinking about today!

    LauraR

  7. great advice Pati. The media is really playing on peoples’ fears.

  8. Laura – Very true. I try to remember that.

    Elizabeth – I think you’re right. But then, that’s their job.