Aside From Voting, Make Sure You’re Practicing Self-Care On This Stressful Election Day
“I’m really scared what this election is going to entail.”
That was a text I received yesterday from one of my best friends. It didn’t begin with a “Hello,” but rather, her message was sent with a sense of urgency at the end of the night. Just like that, her stress almost made me stressed.
We usually have conversations where we recommend certain things to one another: places to eat, music to listen to, movies to watch, cities to travel to. It’s a rarity that we address anything super serious because we both value lighthearted discussions to balance out hectic work schedules and stressful days. Her choice to start our conversation with her admission of fear really signified to me just how frightened she is about the possible results of today’s election.
I know that my friend isn’t alone. #PostVotingStressRelief is trending on Twitter. People are crying themselves through the day. Seriously, I just saw someone say that on Twitter.
And even as I went to the polls this morning to vote, I could see in people’s eyes as they stood in the long line to validate their ballot that they were voting for their life. At one point, I heard someone tell a friend on their way out of the door of the polling place, “Good luck getting through this day.” Folks are on edge, and I get it. If Mitt Romney would have beaten President Obama in 2012, most people would have been pretty disappointed, but not scared for their future. Can’t say that’s the case this time around.
But I, on the other hand, am actually optimistic — or at least I’m trying to be. That’s not to say that I woke up this morning in a jolly mood, walking on sunshine. Instead, I was excited to know that this day had finally come. Enough of all of the ugly rhetoric we’ve been witness to for months. Let’s get to voting. I woke up attempting to be encouraged because there is a chance that this might be one of the last days I have to see and hear Donald Trump on my TV screen. One of the last days that I have to listen to the divisive things he says and watch his supporters pretend they’re voting for him because he’s politically incorrect when they actually mean racist. As Elizabeth Warren recently said, there’s a chance that we can finally get him “out of our lives forever.”
Or something like that.
But there’s also a chance that he could win and everything could change. Anything is possible. There, my friends, is where the fear comes from. And with fear comes stress.
This has been a vicious election cycle. Many of us have ingested a great deal of negativity and expelled it at times. Debates have literally been akin to listening to a schoolyard bully haul off insults every day — bad for your spirit. But as we approach the end of this tepid election and we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by numbers, pundits, and pollsters, it’s important to be unrelenting when it comes to looking after your mind, body and spirit. If you know you follow people who tested your sanity most of the election season, do your best to avoid social media today. You’re likely to run across something that you won’t agree with that will raise your blood pressure.
If the cable news shows leave you feeling like you want to cry, tune into something else until actual results come in. It’s even been proven that news-induced stress has a negative impact on our health. Don’t torture yourself and don’t listen to a lot of negative talk about the “implications” of whatever results come out from the talking heads leading up until you can get some concretes answers and numbers.
And if you know you have co-workers with a lack of sense who you constantly find yourself debating, sidestep them for the day. Be proactive and vote, but after that, remove all of the ugliness you’ve been taking in from your psyche. Focus on doing positive things and positive thinking and not bearing the weight of whatever may happen for the entire day. It’s just not feasible. Not to mention, it won’t have an impact on the vote count anyway.
As I told my friend last night, “I’m more hopeful than I am worried,” when she asked me, “Are you worried?!” All one can do is vote, encourage others to do the same, and hope that for the greater good, things fall into place. But I have to push myself to know that whatever happens, life will go on and our country will survive. We’ve come from worse. As someone determined to practice self-care, it’s essential that I keep a bigger picture (and a greater being) in mind. You should do the same.
But more than anything, be aggressive when it comes to being kind to yourself. Don’t take on the chaos of this day. Don’t allow the fear folks have been trying to instill in us for months, the fires they’ve been stoking, to impede upon your mental health. And yes, spending an entire day, or in the case of my friend, the last few days “scared” is clearly not good for your mental health.