Dr. Deepak Chopra, new age spiritualist, best-selling author, Oprah collaborator, immortalized in a Kanye West lyric, has some wisdom to share with American voters who are all-consumed with anxiety right now:
"Do what needs to be done, and then leave the results to the unknown," he says.
Easier said than done, especially for a society that struggles with the concept of relinquishing control. But in this election year, which has seen unprecedented levels of stress across party lines, we could all stand to take a page from Eastern medicine.
We turned to the international wellness expert for advice on how to manage anxiety in the days leading up to Tuesday, and on Election Day itself.
What is your advice for coping from now until Tuesday?
The best advice is go with your conscience, have a vision for what you want to see America be now and in the future, don’t subject yourself to media overload, take about five minutes every morning to put your awareness in your heart and ask yourself the following questions:
No.1, What kind of world do I want to live in?
No. 2, What kind of world do I want my children and their children to live in?
Ask yourself to be guided into making the right choice. And then let go. And then every time you feel stressed bring your awareness into your heart, and take a few deep breaths and repeat those questions.That way you won’t keep up with the drama, mostly melodrama and also the self-perpetuating madness that becomes overload. Unfortunately, media has a large role to play in this because media success depends on melodrama. That’s why reality shows do so well.
What about voters who know what world they want to see, which candidate they want to take the presidency, but are stressed because they fear their vision won’t come to fruition?
You have to accept that you have an intention. Do what needs to be done, and then leave the results to the unknown. You do not control the collective consciousness. Accept your part in it. The unknown is all there is. There is no such thing as certainty in life and that is a good lesson right now. That’s how we should live our lives always.
What are some techniques folks can use to relax?
Make sure you get a good night sleep. Take a few minutes to quiet your mind, either through mindful meditation, breath awareness, or just keeping still, even five, ten minutes. Get some exercise every day; I recommend 10,000 steps. And don’t overload your body, especially in this season, with toxins and too much food.
What if you find you can’t sleep because you’re too anxious about the election?
It’s a vicious cycle. During the day, the best thing for sleep is exercise and meditation. If you do that every day, you will have a better chance at sleep. If you go to sleep before 10 p.m. at night, if you eat a light meal in the evening, if you darken your room completely so you know your body will start to secrete melatonin, if you don’t watch TV, or get off social media two hours before, you can get to sleep.
Otherwise, just pretend. What happen is, if you lie in bed, completely still, which means, not moving your muscles, and pretend that you’re sleeping, your brain gets the message that you are sleeping, and in fact, one of the best ways to get rid of anxiety from not sleeping is to tell yourself, “I’m getting the same amount of rest being still as I would sleeping.”
I also tell my patients, try your best not to sleep at night [laughs]. They don’t like that. But, sometimes, if you do the opposite of what you need to do, that can also confuse the brain and send you to sleep.
Tips for managing stress levels on Election Day itself?
Exercise your right to vote and then go celebrate and don’t worry about the results until they come out.
But most of us have to go to work!
Well, it’s a good day to take the day off from work, if you have the ability to do so.
And if you don’t?
You’re not going to be working anyway, you’re going to be biting your nails!
The best way to get rid of stress in the moment is to just be aware of your breathing or just of your body. The more aware you are of your breathing and your body, the easier it is to get out of the future and the past, which is where the stress is. The stress is never in the moment. The present moment doesn’t have stress. It’s thinking about the past and future that has stress.
Ah. That’s helpful. And how do we focus on the present moment?
Observe your breath, observe your body, or ask yourself, “Am I in the moment?” Asking yourself, “Am I in the moment” brings you into the moment.
Huh. What would you suggest for an Election Day mantra?
“We will get what we deserve.”
Whoa. That’s a difficult pill to swallow.
Yeah, but it’s the truth. Ultimately whoever we get [as a president] represents our collective conscious. We will get what we deserve and then detach.
So do you say it to yourself?
Whenever you feel distress you can say it [to yourself].
Wouldn’t that make someone more upset? The concept is very unsettling.
That’s because we live in such a neurotic society. We have to come to terms with the fact that we’re neurotic. We’re a messed up, screwed up society, that’s totally insane. So just say, I’m picking up my visitor’s badge in this lunatic asylum [laughs].
You have a new wellness app, Jiyo.com. How can folks use it to manage stress?
Yes, you can download it for free on Itunes and it has everything possible you could do [to manage] stress. It gives you short yoga lessons, meditation techniques, tips on how to manage relationships, mind-body health. It has 40 experts [who can offer advice] across all those areas.