How To Practice Self-Care On Election Day If You're Anxious About The Results
If you’re feeling Election Day-related stress or anxiety today, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by Everyday Health, people in the United States are feeling a lot of stress these days. Given that there are so many crucial issues on the line with today’s midterm elections, from reproductive rights to immigration, many people might be feeling anxious today. Knowing how to practice self-care on Election Day if you’re feeling anxious about the results can help make a major difference in how well you get through the midterms.
The elections can be frustrating for myriad reasons: You might wait an hour to cast your vote at 8 a.m., only to have to work all day while waiting for results to start coming in around 9. For people who want to vote but aren't able to, whether because of accessibility issues at their polling place, or because they live here permanently but aren't citizens, feelings of frustration and powerlessness can be magnified. While self-care isn't a panacea for managing anxiety, it can be helpful to relieve those feelings until the final results are called.
"Today's news cycle is a 27/7 event — factor in the midterm elections into an already heated, volatile, and emotionally charged political climate, and it's no wonder we're all one step away from losing it altogether," Maureen Connolly, editor in chief at Everyday Health tells Bustle, via email. "The reality is, there is no escaping the stress and anxiety of the elections, but there is a way to manage it through self-care," she says.
According to Everyday Health’s report, levels of chronic stress in the United States are high overall. Survey participants ages 25 to 35 said they are especially stressed out, according to the survey, but researchers also uncovered another key finding: Despite how troubling some types of stressors may be, how you manage your stress has a lot to do with whether you end up with negative symptoms from it, notes Psychology Today. By using self-care techniques to manage stress-related anxiety, you can help turn the tables on the negative effects of stress. Here are seven self-care tips to help you get through Election Day, if you’re feeling worried.
1. Get Some Exercise
According to a recent poll conducted by Daily Burn, many anxious voters are turning to exercise in order to cope with so much political uncertainty, and it makes a lot of sense — if you're focused on logging laps around a track, you won't have to think so much about how many seats are needed to flip the House. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), regular exercise can help stabilize mood, improve sleep, and lessen overall stress.
"Get some exercise, release some tension, blow off steam physically," clinical psychologist Deborah Offner, PhD, tells Bustle via email. "You know what frees up your body — try to do this as soon as you can. If all you have is 15 minutes for a brisk walk around the block, get out there." While you're at it, remember to drink water and nourish yourself throughout today, too.
2. Talk To People (About Anything)
Dealing with anxiety in isolation can sometimes make symptoms worse, according to Anxiety.org. If you're feeling nervous or scared about the election results, reach out to people you can trust, and let them know that you need support today. Saying something like, "I'm feeling anxious and need to talk," can help your friends know what's going on with you. Sharing your concerns and fears with other people, while also listening to theirs, can help you feel less alone.
"Reach out to a friend, colleague, or family member to check in, let them know you've voted, or simply say hello," says Dr. Offner.
3. Cuddle With A Pet
Hanging with your pet can help soothe frayed nerves. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), positive interactions between people and animals alleviate stress and boost oxytocin (the feel-good love hormone) in both you and your pet. There's nothing like a wagging tail and some furry unconditional love to help you get through a rough day. And if you don't have a furry loved one at home, see if you can hang out with a close friend instead.
4. Take A Social Media Break
If you need to back away from social media today, do it. While voter turnout initiatives via Snapchat and other apps can be empowering and helpful (like if you need to find your polling place, for instance), taking a break from the ongoing political debate on Facebook is totally OK. By silencing your notifications, temporarily deleting your social media apps, or turning on airplane mode, you can get some space from politically charged social media feeds.
"Whether you’re reading Facebook rants or scrolling through politically charged feeds, I recommend you limit your time on social this week. Schedule activities where you know you won't be on your phone, like going to the movies, working out, or meeting friends. Being social IRL versus online will boost your mood, and limit your exposure to potentially stress-inducing posts," Connolly says.
5. Watch The Election Results With Friends
If you know you'll feel more anxious by staying out of the loop, channel that energy into pulling together an informal Election Day watching party. Snuggling up with snacks, fur babies, blankets, and friends means you've got built-in support, no matter how the results come in.
6. Do Deep Breathing Exercises
Getting some meditation time in, or even just doing some simple deep breathing exercises, is a key way to reduce stress. According to Harvard Health, breath-centered relaxation techniques are a powerful way to deal with feeling anxious and stressed out. And deep breathing is something that you can do anywhere, at any time of day.
"There's no quicker or more efficient way to step back, and connect with yourself than meditation. (It's also great for quelling anxiety.) If you're not an experienced practitioner with a dedicated space and an established practice ... download an app for your phone and use headphones while sitting at your desk, or at the bus stop, for 5-10 minutes," says Dr. Offner. The Shine app launched a (free!) walking to the polls meditation that can be a place to start.
Getting active as a volunteer can help you feel empowered. While it might be too late to sign up to be a poll worker, tons of causes will still need your help once the election is over. By giving your time to causes that are important to you, you can engage with like-minded people while helping to make a difference. Organizations like VolunteerMatch can help connect you with volunteering opportunities in your area.
While it's true that election-related stress might feel intense today, taking care of yourself is important. By making it a point to practice self-care, and manage your stress in the best ways you can, you can get through Election Day in one piece. You might still feel a little worried — and understandably so — but self-care practices can help lessen the negative impact of this kind of stress.