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17 Ways To Practice Self-Care During This Election Season

Because shit is rough out there.

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Real talk: It seems like the 2016 US election is one of the nastiest and most divisive elections in recent history. If you're feeling battered and bruised from it, we feel you. It's hard not to. But there are some things you can do to feel better. Below, a list of self-care techniques you can take part in over the next month and beyond.

1. Give yourself permission to eschew political coverage and watch your favorite dumb TV shows.

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It's good to be informed about the candidates and the issues, but it's easy in the current political and media landscape to become oversaturated in information, dialogue, and discourse, to the point that it's unproductive. If you're starting to feel like you're engaging with an unhealthy amount of political rhetoric, give yourself permission to shut it all down for a while and watch your favorite non-political media instead. Even if it's just old reruns of Friends or New Girl.

2. Get a hobby.

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Take up a new skill, like weaving, or macrame, or knitting. Even better if your new hobby can make you a little extra money! Even if not, handicrafts can be relaxing and meditative and can help de-stress you after a long day of work and political poopheads.

3. Treat yo' self.

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Got a gift card you forgot about? A gift certificate to a spa you've never used? Now's the time to schedule that massage appointment or buy something truly frivolous. Even if you don't have an extra gift card lying around, treat yourself to a coffee or a nice meal.

4. But also help others.

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Being kind to others in your day-to-day life can give you the greatest gift of all. Compassion is insanely addicting, and getting out of your own head for a few minutes or a few hours can be an incredible way to lift your spirits.

5. Turn off the TV a couple of hours before you go to bed.

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Watching the news right before bed can heighten your sense of anxiety and stress, making it harder to fall asleep. If at all possible, watch something else. Or better yet, turn the TV off altogether and read a book; talk to your partner or roommates; or spend some time quietly writing.

6. Give yourself permission to unplug from everything every once in a while.

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You're allowed to disconnect from everything. The world won't fall apart if you're not on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for a few hours or a few days, promise. And it might just give you the mental space and clarity you need to feel better.

7. And if you're going to keep yourself plugged in, make frequent stops to your online "happy places."

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Maybe you love "cats shaved like lions," or "corgi butts," or "dogs dressed like businessmen." Whatever your pleasure, make sure you take frequent googling/giggling breaks so the internet doesn't bum you out too much.

8. Exercise.

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Exercise can help you sweat out stress, anger, and annoyance. Whether it's yoga, running, swimming, or simply lying on your floor in front of your TV and stretching, exercising can help your body detox from all the negativity around you.

9. Don't take the Facebook bait.

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I know, I know, it's so tempting to get yourself embroiled in a bunch of shitty Facebook election wars. But! Is it really going to do any good? PROBABLY NOT. Instead, it'll just give you an empty, awful Facebook hangover and make your blood pressure go through the roof. Resist the urge to get into a Facebook argument with a bunch of armchair pundits. Close your laptop, go outside, and get some fresh air.

10. Oh yeah! Remember outside?

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It's still kind of nice and temperate in much of the country, so why not get out and enjoy the weather while you still can? The best part of being outside? There's no television, no social media, no political pundits screaming at you from the radio or TV. There's just fresh air and good views. And! It's the National Park Service's centennial birthday! So why not visit a park near you?

11. Get your sleep.

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Self-care means not skimping on the basics, like sleep. Without it, everything in the world can feel SO MUCH WORSE. Make sure you're indulging in your six, or eight, or ten(!) hours a night — whatever you need to feel refreshed and relaxed during the day. Need some help sleeping? Check out these tips.

12. Pet a doggy or a kitty.

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It's true! Petting a cat or dog has been shown to reduce stress. Taking care of pets can also improve your mood, simply by allowing you to focus on something other than yourself and your own worries. If you don't have a dog or cat of your own, try volunteering at a local animal shelter.

13. Oh yeah, VOLUNTEER!

One of the best ways to feel better about your own life is to do something kind and selfless for someone else. Volunteering for a cause that you feel passionate about and ~paying it forward~ is a truly great way to engage in some self-care —it's been shown to counteract stress and depression, reduce anxiety, and increase self-confidence. VolunteerMatch is a great place to start looking for opportunities.

14. Create a happy music playlist.

That probably means something different for everyone (for the record, here's mine, above). Whatever it is, creating a playlist of all your fave good-vibes songs will inexorably lift your mood.

16. Or listen to ASMR.

View this video on YouTube

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What is ASMR? It stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It doesn't work for everybody, but some people report that these videos induce a calming, relaxing sensation.

17. Create a ritual that calls to you.

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For some, that might mean unwinding at the end of a long day in a calming bath. For others, it might be enjoying a soothing cup of tea and conversation with someone you love. Whatever it is, incorporate it into your daily or weekly life to honor its importance to you.

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