For most of us, the month leading up to Nov. 3 will simply be an exercise in waiting. We know who we are voting for, we are not going to change our minds, and now here we sit, with 30 full days to get worked up and stressed out over the possible outcome.
This stress and anxiety might feel insurmountable, but there are ways we can cope with the anticipation of this critical election while preserving our physical, mental, and emotional health.
1. Weed out social media.
We know that lots of time spent on social media negatively impacts our mental health. Notice what happens for you when you read posts from specific people or sources. Do you get a feeling of edification and enjoyment, or does your engagement with this source bring up anger, frustration, or a sense of powerlessness? If the latter is true, it’s time to unfollow, see less, or block. Leave any guilt behind; you’re taking care of your mental health. Notice how powerful it feels to take charge of what you see and consume.
2. Set a specific time for news.
The way we wake up often sets the tone for the day. Try to begin your day with something other than news. Read an uplifting quote or passage from a favorite book, or play a favorite song or playlist while you’re getting ready for the day. Slow down and be present with your 5 senses during coffee and breakfast. Set aside a specific time to consume news each day, and don’t spend more than 10 minutes catching up. This way you strike a balance between staying informed and becoming overwhelmed.
3. Turn off non-pertinent notifications.
Most of us are trained like puppies to respond to every notification on our phones. The dopamine rush provided by those little red numbers and dings and buzzes is irresistible. It is also short-lived and often ends up sucking us in to a social media vortex that negatively affects our nervous system. Turn the notifications off and decide on a specific time during the day that you will open the apps and see them.
4. Create a list of alternatives to election obsession.
Create a short list of go-to activities that bring you joy. Reading, cooking, going for a walk, catching up with a friend or doing a creative project are all good examples. Write them down and post the list somewhere visible. When you notice yourself fixating on the election or bad news, choose one of your go-to activities to do instead. You could even list a few alternative websites that make you laugh or are entertaining as a place to hang out online, rather than more toxic cyber locations.
5. Practice self-compassion.
If a child you love was feeling exhausted, depleted, anxious or depressed, what would you do to comfort and help them? How can you care for yourself in these same ways? Remember that it’s hard being human right now, and while you might not be at your best, you’re doing the best you can, and that is enough.
6. Fill your cup with a daily ritual.
Think of a favorite daily routine and make it even more special. For example, if your daily ritual is tea and a cookie at 4pm with a favorite tv show, put it in your daily calendar and honor that time like you would a work commitment. Can you add anything else to make this ritual extra pleasurable? Some beautiful lights or smells? A favorite blanket? Treat yourself! Read more about creating daily rituals here.
7. Try 5 minutes a day in a restorative pose.
Restorative yoga calms the nervous system, in turn impacting every system and function in the human body. However, it is easier said than done! Most people have a lot of trouble being intentionally still. Try to set aside 5 minutes each day for a simple restorative pose. Right before sleep is a perfect time to swing your legs up the wall or get into child’s pose. Add some deep, slow breaths and feel the entire day melt away while the body prepares for sleep.
8. Keep a list of go-to support people.
Think of people you always feel better after connecting with – people who always say the right things, extend compassion and understanding or make you laugh. Make a list of 2 or 3 of these support people that you can reach out to when you begin to experience election anxiety.
9. Delight in the season.
10. Practice yoga, pranayam, and meditation.
Yoga, breath work and meditation are indescribably powerful in times of stress. The aim of yoga is to engage with life in ways that create less suffering and more ease, not just for ourselves, but for those in our close circles and in our world.
By tending to your mind-body wellness right now, you are not shirking your responsibilities as a citizen or avoiding the perseverance required for systemic change.
You are fortifying yourself in ways that will help you to move forward and be a meaningful part of this time in our nation’s history without losing yourself in the process.
Are you looking for a yoga class to help you stay sane leading up to the election?