As the 2020 presidential election looms, most of the country is gripped in anxiety. At this tense time in our history, and with the coronavirus pandemic stretching on longer than many of us expected, it’s more important than ever to practice self-care.
With pre-election drama building up, we all need to take a step back and de-stress. Here are some election self-care tips from mental health experts to help you navigate potentially tense political days ahead:
Remember You Are Not Alone
First, take a step back and recognize you are not the only one going through pre-election stress.
“The ‘us versus them’ mentality currently dominates, which heightens our collective anxiety and interferes with restorative processes like sleep, connection and security,” says Bridgit Dengel Gaspard, LCSW. “Awareness that you’re not alone in this shared vulnerability is vital.”
She advises limiting your online time and also exploring your feelings about the election in a safe, controlled environment.
Tap Into Your Support Network
Surround yourself — virtually or in-person — with a network of safe people. “For example, plan a watch party in advance where friends and family agree to certain guidelines so everyone is in a safe space within this chaotic environment,” Dengal Gaspard advises.
Being able to process what’s going on with like-minded people will help reduce your election anxiety.
“Prioritize allowing yourself to process with trusted allies,” Dengal Gaspard says. “Another ground rule could be that opinions are shared in the spirit of understanding that nobody holds ‘the truth.’ This avoids descending into a divisive conflict of who can convince the other.”
Sweat It Out
Working out is another way to beat pre-election stress, advises Katie Roach, an Associate Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Chicago. Katie advises doing “physical activity for using up some of the anxiety and generating some endorphins.”
In addition to sweating out the stress, you can shift your perspective when you start to feel too down or negative.
“Immediately remind yourself of the many acts of generosity and beauty that are still going on every day,” Dengal Gaspard says. “Perhaps take a small step to help the world be the better place we all want it to be. That could be anything from offering to watch your overworked neighbor’s toddler for an afternoon to making a donation.”
Helping others will give you a sense of control in your world while also renewing positive connections to people.
10 quick election self-care tips
Need some short election self-care tips? Here are ten quick, easy-to-use self-care tips for surviving the election, from Jimena Picciano, a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist practicing at Hispanic Therapy in the Bay Area, California.
- Limit the time you spend reading and watching news.
- Connect with nature, take a quick walk.
- Stay connected with family, friends and loved ones.
- Focus on the things you can control (vote) and let go of the things you cannot control.
- Journal your feelings.
- Listen to your body.
- Challenged negative thoughts.
- Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can.
- Practice breathing.
- Listen to music.
How do you plan to practice self-care through the end of election season?