If you’re feeling extra stressed with the impending election, you’re not alone. This past year has been wrought with tension and anxiety, especially with the ongoing pandemic, racial injustice, and countless other issues. Many of us have found ourselves at odds with family and friends over political views, and the closer we approach Election Day, the more apprehensive we may feel.
So how do we deal? It’s easy to get caught up in endless doom-scrolling and to sink into a pit of deep despair. It’s a reasonable reaction to this moment, when so many of our fellow citizens are dead, sick, or hurting, and when a whole series of basic rights many Americans took for granted are freshly vulnerable.
So, as we move through these final days with lumps in our throats, trying to quell the unsettling sensation of the in-between. It’s OK not to feel like bucking up, to want to hide under the covers and melt into a sea of misery. Go ahead. Just don’t stay too long. It is times like these, when you need to remember to take care of yourself.
A great place to start your self-care journey is by going on a media diet. Unplugging and limiting your consumption of media, particularly of the 24-hour news cycle of social media variety. Stay informed, of course, but instead of constantly scrolling your newsfeed, try one of these options:
Be present as it is important to be aware of and acknowledge our thoughts and feelings. Pay attention with non-judgmental curiosity, and give yourself permission to feel the way you do. Although distraction can be useful, unaddressed intense emotion can also have negative impacts.
Find a healthy escape by doing something engaging or energizing to manage your feelings rather than turn to potentially harmful or hurtful coping mechanisms (i.e. excess substance use). Get outside. Practice mindfulness. Exercise. Journal. Meditate. Read something light. Make art. Watch a funny movie. Laughter is often a good antidote for stress and anxiety.
Connect with supportive friends and allies. Talk about it if you need to, but also communicate your boundaries when needed. Not everyone will share your perspective. Give yourself permission to walk away from a conversation that is feeling uncomfortable, heated or too stressful. Reach out to a mental health professional such as those at the Health and Counseling Center or another trusted individual.
Replenish and get back to self-care, and focus on restoring yourself. Get enough rest. Eat well. Drink plenty of water and fluids. Move daily… walking, stretching, breathing are great ways to replenish.
Do something by channeling what you are feeling into something that is meaningful and purposeful to you. Get informed and be proactive around issues that matter to you. Find ways to engage with your community through volunteering and advocacy.
Finally, make a plan for yourself post-election. Find a way to unplug and do something that truly nourishes you… or feeds your soul. If you lose your health, none of the other work you want to do in the world will be possible. Take care and be well.