Let’s get real for a second: as I talk with more and more people in the community, it has become so clear that we could all use some advice on how to cope with everything that’s going on. This election is stressful no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. There is a lot of confusion and hype, and while we are still sitting in the middle of a life-altering pandemic, it makes sense that many of us would be more than just a little overwhelmed. That is why it’s more important than ever to cultivate some strategies so we can all find some calm in the chaos.
I had the opportunity to connect with Jewish leaders, wellness experts, therapists, and doctors from around the DC community for some useful tips and practices in this stressful time. And here’s what they had to say. While not all of these practices will work for you, the hope is that maybe just one will. Perhaps one will help you accomplish the next thing on your list while we wait for whatever historic news comes next.
Dr. Rebecca Brown, Mental Health Professional at the Capital Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness
Dr. Brown provided us with four coping strategies we can use in our daily routine to keep us grounded during this time – or any time! I am personally very drawn to the coping box (I keep scented thinking putty at my desk). Dr. Brown currently runs an election support group and also accepts out-of-network clients.
Amanda Herring, Co-Founder of GoldHerring & Manager of Jewish Life and Learning at the Edlavitch DCJCC
Amanda Herring is a guiding light in the community who brings her passion for Judaism to every aspect of her work. Below, she provides us for grounding in the Hebrew month and offers some guidance and activities you can do to keep your priorities in check- along with advice on accepting and moving past failure.
This month, in the Hebrew calendar, Cheshvan is all about making good on your promises from last month. In Tishrei we did a spiritual accounting of ourselves, took stock of where we need to be better people, and hopefully committed to some new goals. In Cheshvan it’s time to make them happen – establishing good routines now will help us all get through the election season. Everyone needs to be prepared for an election night with no clear results, and most media will heighten and play with the anxieties of those who are already stressed.
In this Hebrew month, we read Torah stories about Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and Lot. Each of our biblical ancestors was tested, sometimes failing miserably. The reason to reread these stories over and over again is to learn from the failures. We establish a new routine, and we miss a day; we “cheat” on our new diet, or we get caught up in our own lives and forget to check in with a friend.
Treat each failure as a learning experience: how will I prevent this in the future, what did I learn about myself, what can I do to set myself up for success? Do not allow a simple setback to throw you off course. It’s human to forget our goals, that is why we need reminders. Jewish tradition is full of physical reminders of our commitment to our values and community.
Passing a mezuzah as we enter a home and putting on ritual garments like kippas, tallit, and tefillin are all physical reminders of commitments we’ve made. Our ancient texts assumed people would need constant signs to remember what it means to be a good person in society. Consider hanging a sign on your door, or stick a note to your computer that says “if you’re on Twitter again, close me and call Mom”. Figure out what reminders you need to stick to your plan and set yourself up for success.
Sandy Jolles, Wellness Expert & Personal Trainer
Sandy Jolles is a dynamic wellness professional who tries to bring in a holistic approach to mindfulness and wellness. Here are two practices that you can do from your desk to help center you in the moment.
Dr. Marc Gruner, DO and Dr. Brian Sherman, DPT
Former Jewish Doctor of the Week, Marc Gruner, and his colleague, Dr. Brian Sherman, shared with us a few exercises to stay relaxed and agile to prevent us from doing long-term damage to our bodies. If you have any questions about how to stay fit and healthy this winter, feel free to meet with them at Point Performance.
During this time, staying safe and keeping a physical distance has become a priority. It has also meant that we are moving less, sitting more, and using technology more than ever. It is important to remember physical activity is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When you’re sitting at your desk, couch, or chair, try to listen to what your body is telling you. Do you find yourself moving around a lot? Do you look for your neck or back to try to massage out those kinks or knots? Stiffness may be setting in. Joint stiffness is extremely common when being still in any position for 30 min.
However, this does not necessarily mean you are injured. I recommend some easy stretches and movements that can help loosen joints within your middle and lower back to improve posture and avoid excess pain.
When we sit for an extended period of time, our head shoulders, chest, and mid-back start to drift forward. We should remember to be conscious of our positioning, especially when pain or discomfort sets in. Simply standing up and moving around for just 2-5 minutes will help decrease stiffness and promote blood flow throughout your body. You can also utilize the slouch, overcorrect, relax strategy. While sitting at your desk or table, you can slouch letting your body relax, then arch your back overcorrecting your posture finding an extra tall position then release and return to your natural comfortable position prior to returning to your task or work. You will most often find yourself in an improved position overall. This will give you a better frame of reference of your alignment and will you stay mindful of your body throughout the day.
In addition to some mobility exercises to improve your range of motion, exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all health adults aged 18-65 should participate in moderate intensity (brisk walk) aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes five days a week, or vigorous intense (runnings or tennis match) aerobic exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes three days per week. Additionally, every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength for a minimum of two days per week.
Are you doing something to help the community during the election that you want us to share? Shoot me an email at email@example.com and we can talk about ways to highlight your work!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.