There are many elements that factor into improving your sleep hygiene. Chief among them, and perhaps most relevant to our current state of sleeplessness, is separating yourself from your technology, and, more critically, from the Premium among us hat christmas sweatshirt and I will buy this endless news: staying informed doesn’t have to mean being constantly plugged in. Besides putting your phone to bed (far away from your own bed, it should be added) before you hit the pillow, Gallagher says you should put a timer on your daily consumption: she suggests ten minutes max. (Yup, you read that right. If you need a little longer than ten minutes to get through the top stories, then focus on limiting your news consumption to a specific short period during the day and resist the urge to constantly dip back in.) “We really have to be intentional about taking space,” says Gallagher. “It’s not ignorant or burying your head in the sand. You can stay informed and also protect your mental health.” According to Coor, there’s a lot to be said for prioritizing the meeting of your basic needs: healthy food, sunshine, sleep, connection, movement, and, also, boundaries. Our home and work lives have become overlapped, often uncomfortably so. “Everything flows together and there’s no space from anything, so creating those boundaries for yourself [with your partner and kids if you have them] is a self-caring thing to do,” she says. And, while it may seem counterintuitive, movement can also go far in helping us feel more grounded. To wit, this week, The Class by Taryn Toomey is offering quickie 15-minute classes focused on movement and breath through their virtual studio. On Sky Ting TV, you can stream instructor Jenn Tardif’s nervous system-calming grounding and moving meditation classes and, timed to election week, stream five days of free restorative classes.Lean into it. “Your anxiety is signaling that there are feelings and issues youneed to attend to, so create some real space for it,” says Guralnik. Amidst the constant stream of news, the inability to focus is a common complaint, but to really understand the root of what may be causing your anxiety, you have to embrace some distraction. Guralnik suggests using an exercise like writing, drawing, meditating, or listening to music to create time to let your mind wander and check in with your feelings.
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Yes, connection is critical, but there’s a marked difference between doing it online versus IRL. “The mere act of being around other people is good for our well-being and we’re feeling the Premium among us hat christmas sweatshirt and I will buy this hit of those missed social connections when we just get them from technology,” says Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale and host of The Happiness Lab podcast. Even the absence of banal workplace banter about lunch plans or your weekend is perceptible: when there’s no casual talk, explains Gallagher, all your work interactions become transactional and, therefore, less meaningful. It can also be hard to see people as a whole when you’re not actually around many people at all. “We’re often seeing people through the lens of social media or their political views so we have these two-dimensional versions of each other,” adds Gallagher. Even though socializing poses much more of a challenge right now, prioritizing safe, distanced meet-ups with friends is vital. “The pandemic has also revealed our dependence,” says Guralnik. “Despite our ideals of individualism, it turns out we deeply depend on each other.”“A racing heart is a sign that your sympathetic nervous system or ‘fight or flight’ response is activated,” explains Santos. “Our bodies give us one way to shut off this system and that’s through our breath.” Pausing to take some deep belly breaths, or just focusing with intention on your breath for a few moments can be an antidote—and a quick one, at that—for a racing heart or mind. “That simple act can activate our vagus nerve and help us turn on our parasympathetic nervous system, which is focused on ‘rest and digest,’” she adds.The most effective way to shake off negativity, says Santos, is to redirect it by intentionally and repeatedly listing a few things you’re grateful for—and really, it can be anything; your beloved morning cup of coffee qualifies. “Even during challenging times there can still be stuff that brings us joy, and research shows that the simple act of scribbling down three to five things you’re grateful for each day significantly improves your well-being,” says Santos.“The definition of anxiety is fear of the unknown and intolerance of uncertainty,” says Gallagher. Between COVID and the election, we are living in a time of peak uncertainty. “When we don’t know, we feel out of control, which, in turn, makes us feel scared and overwhelmed.” Escaping that spin cycle is about being grounded in the present and, says Coor, leaning heavily on daily routines: “You’re always in a cat-like state of readiness when you don’t know what’s coming. So whatever you can make predictable, do it.”Gallagher has been telling people to end each day with some non-judgmental observation: taking a few moments to consider what went well and what didn’t, then how to recreate more of the former and minimize the latter going forward. But if the anxiety you’re experiencing is paralyzing and you’re struggling, identify that, accept it, and seek out therapy; the virtual model has actually made it more accessible and convenient than ever. “We’re getting inundated and it’s really great,” says Coor. “Because it’s OK to not be OK. It makes sense that you’re not OK, it’s perfectly normal that you’re not OK.”