Self-Care Tips For Surviving The Election [2020]

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Today I’m going to show you self-care tips for surviving the election. Whether you vote red, blue, green or (insert here), it’s still important to find ways in taking care of yourself.

Let’s face it, 2020 has been the year of uncertainty. And, as much as you think things are out of your control, let’s try and see if there are places you still have some power over.

Here’s some good news.

This won’t be your average article. I’ve put a lot of work in this to show you several areas of self-care that can really turn around a bad day, even during election season.

Here we go.

Self-Care Tip #1: Emotional

With the election taking center stage on most news channels, social media platforms, and interpersonal interactions with others, this can be burdensome to our emotional self-care.

It’s vital to pay close attention to the process of monitoring and regulating emotions. Your ability to juggle what you see in media can be tough without proper attendance to your self-care process.

And if you’re thinking, “How do I even start something like this?” you’re not alone. The first step in taking more control of emotional self care depends on the actions you decide to take moving forward.

Here are a few self-care examples to help cover emotional needs:

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Gratitude
  • Visualization
  • Talk Therapy

 

Meditation

Now, meditation may sound like a difficult strategy to do when your mind may be in more important places, such as the election. But, this is the point of meditation: a chance to remove yourself from reality for a moment.

This type of meditation I’m talking about it is called Mindfulness Meditation. Basically, this means to simply notice whatever thoughts enter your mind, feelings in your spirit, and sensations in your body.

The goal here isn’t to judge whatever appears in your experience. The goal is to let it be, notice it, and allowing it to leave without attaching to it.

Sometimes, a mantra (a statement repeated frequently) can be used to keep you on task of meditating. Examples are phrases like “ohm” or “come back again” or whatever else you think can be helpful.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a quiet place to sit and relax.
  • Get into a comfortable position.
  • Begin to repeat your mantra.
  • Notice what happens in your mind and body.
  • Don’t fight it, allow it to be.
  • Notice if or when those experiences leave.
  • Practice this for 5-10 minutes a day.
  • Check in with yourself to see if you found this helpful.

 

Journaling

Whether you’re a writer or not, journaling has a way of working through emotional stuff. This can be helpful during the elections because journaling can be used to put down private thoughts and feelings of how you’re holding up.

There are many different types of journaling, but let’s start with the basics: free writing.

Free writing is your attempt to write with flow. This means to remove all rules you’ve ever learned about writing a grammatically correct sentence. The point is to write freely. If you write something you didn’t mean, write that next.

Remember. Flow with it.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab a pencil/pen/crayon and a piece of paper.
  • Find a quiet spot to increase focus.
  • Write. Write. Write.
  • Try not to erase. This can help show you what you’re thoughts may look like presently.
  • You’ll notice when your writing flow is done.
  • Take a moment to review what you wrote.
  • Write down 1-3 “feeling” words you get when reviewing.
    This is helpful in identifying deeper emotions.

 

Gratitude

The idea of practicing gratitude, considering the elections, is something that may be placed at the bottom of most to-do lists. It can be difficulty to think about “what I’m grateful for” in a time like this.

However, time and time again, something great happens to those who find a little good in their day. Again, this is not to say that there aren’t more important things to pay attention to.

Remember, you’re reading this to take care of your emotional self in order to survive the election season. It’s entirely possible to practice gratitude while attempting to fight for change.

You have the ability to do this. It may just take some push to start.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Open up a note app on your phone. For those who may not be able to do this, see what you can do to find something to write on.
  • Take a moment to think about something going well in your life.
  • Think about the little things that matter: (e.g., food, clothing, etc.)
  • Think about the bigger things that matter (e.g., friendship, family, etc.)
  • Get creative and begin to jot down a shortlist (see image below)
  • Practice this at least once a day, or once every other day.
  • Begin to notice what this does to your emotional health.
  • The little things add up. The bigger things really add up.

 

Visualization

Similar to meditation, this type of emotional self-care tip can be tough to begin. But, with enough practice, you’d be very surprised at how helpful this skill can be. Why?

Because you can use visualization anywhere without others even knowing.

Some professionals call this guided imagery or using your imagination. This can be helpful during election time as this technique can give your mind a mental break.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a relaxing place to close your eyes.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Imagine being in your favorite place (e.g., beach, home, traveling)
  • Identify what all 5 of your senses are bringing up in this moment.
  • This may not work well at first and that’s okay. Try again.
  • Practice this once a day for 5-10 minutes.

 

Talk Therapy

Ah, we’ve made it my favorite part of the article. My bread and butter. Psychotherapy, or as many know it as talk therapy.

Believe it or not, but it’s pretty common that political items occur while talking to a therapist (at least this happens with me). And with elections coming up, I’m noticing this theme increasing more and more.

This is great news.

Why? Well, there are many reasons. One of which is that people are wanting to talk about this type of stuff, and for good reason. It’s important! Especially, for your emotional self-care.

And what better way to vent, let out, talk, yell, cry, be proud, stand tall, or (insert here) than with a professional who is legally bound to hold your space. Just as long as you don’t break the limits of confidentiality.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a therapist through a directory (Psychology Today, Better Help, etc.)
  • Review their profile to see if you’re a good fit.
  • Read this article I wrote specifically about what to do after you’ve booked your first therapy appointment.

 

Self-Care Tip #2: Mental

Similar to emotional self-care, your mental processes and how you take care of them matter. Whether voting by mail or in-person, the election process can be taxing for your brain.

You may be certain of who you’re voting for, yet uncertain about what the turnout can or will be. Regardless, the election has placed heavy pressure on many people that it can be hard to straighten out topsy turvy thoughts.

Your psyche and whatever stimulates your mind is important. Because what you pay attention to can grow and take up a lot of needed space in your mind. And boy, has the election take up a lot of space.

Here are a few self-care examples to help cover mental needs:

  • Reading
  • Hobbies
  • Traveling
  • Creating
  • Listening

 

Reading

Picking up a good book for the purpose of leisure and enjoyment has a way of putting the mind at ease. With the election coming up, this is a must do activity to pull you away from current reality stressors.

Attempting to change what your mind focuses on for short spans of time is good for the brain. Stress is a part of the human experience, but chronic stress shouldn’t be the norm.

Reading for fun has a way of putting space between you and the political sphere for short periods of time. If you’re interested, I discuss the power of reading when it comes to mental burnout.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Look into fictional books such as fantasy, sci-fi, etc.
  • Look into educational self-help books.
  • Look into short stories with inspirational messages.
  • Look into religious texts.
  • Attempt to find hardcopy books to decrease online usage.

 

Hobbies

You might not think it’s ideal to look into hobbies during a time like this, and I can’t blame you for that. But, practicing current or adding a new hobby to your week has a way of chipping away mental distress from the elections.

Whether your hobby is outside, inside, or requires some sort of special preparation, it’s important not to forget the power of pleasurable activity for your mental health’s sake.

A good rule of thumb here is attempting hobbies that are reasonable and doable right now. For example, if your hobby costs a lot of money that you may not have right now, perhaps that particular hobby may not be best to begin with.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start a Do It Yourself (DIY) project and make something.
  • Begin gardening, crafting, or anything with creating.
  • Watch documentaries and learn something new.
  • Go to free community events, people watch, volunteer.
  • Learn a new language using free apps.
  • Start exercising, making a new diet, etc.
  • Mentor someone in something you’re an expert in.

 

Traveling

Sometimes, people can mentally remove themselves from the pressures of voting time. Other times, it may require physically moving elsewhere in order to find some moments to breathe.

Traveling has a way of not only changing up your surroundings, but has the power to achieve the beginning steps of mental self-care. This can be traveling to unfamiliar areas where you live, or going into nature.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about what nature can do to internal stress and anxiety, I’d definitely check out this article and go straight to Tip #2.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Write down a shortlist of places you’d like to go to.
  • Rank-order what places you’re likely to go to after some thought.
  • Put a star next to a place you can actually go to this week.
  • Go there.
  • If you can’t put a star down with your, that’s okay.
  • Think a little smaller for the time being. Perhaps, a place closer to home.
  • The point here is to change your background for a few moments.
  • For the sake of your mental self-care.
    Maybe, you’ll be able to go to that place you first wrote down, one day.

 

Creating

Similar to hobbies, creating something out of nothing has a way of keeping the mind at ease as it’s focused on something grand.

Think of creating as using your more artistic side of your mind. And if you’re like me who thinks, “Well, I don’t have an artistic bone in this entire body,” I’ve got you covered.

Here’s how to do it:

For those who are already artistic:

  1. Give yourself a challenge by doing that one thing you’ve been wanting to create for sometime (e.g., origami, abstract art, etc.).
  2. Create something meaningful out of any negative (or positive) energy you’ve been experience from the election.
  3. Start today.

For those who struggle with artistic activities:

  1. Begin with the mindset of not comparing yourself to what you think “good” art is.
  2. Start with smaller, well-known exercises such as making a paper airplane, drawing doodles, or even taking pictures.
  3. It may be helpful to take a free art class on platforms such as YouTube where there are thousands of free videos of beginner content.
  4. Start today.

 

Listening

Sometimes, people find it soothing to listen to something in order to destress their minds.

With all the buzz going on with the 2020 election, it’s vital to try and listen to other things that pull you away from the craze for a moment.

This area can be tough on those who may already feel burned out from listening, so perhaps silence is the way to go for now.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin listening to podcasts that are unrelated to politics and news. (Trust me, they exist).
  • Listen to your favorite band, song, or check out the radio station I listen to every single day that gives me peace.
  • Pay attention to conversation that is far removed from the election and try to join in.
  • If you notice that certain dialogue is beginning to steer into a political region, see how long you can last before you got to remove yourself. This can be helpful with your level of anti-fragility (aka how much mentally stronger you can become) after “listening” past your previous limits.

 

Self-Care Tip #3: Physical

I would say that physical self-care is often prioritized toward the top of well-being. Why? My hunch is that it’s easier to engage in without tapping into mental and emotional pain points.

Physical self-care, especially during election time, is absolutely important for your overall wellness. It’s an area I think many can state they have more control over. Not to mention the hundreds of benefits you get when you engage in this.

So, why not take advantage of this type of self-care? I think it’s worth your mental health.

Here are a few self-care examples to help cover mental needs:

  • Physical Exercise
  • Massage Therapy
  • Rest and Recreation

 

Physical Exercise

Adding exercise to your routine can add value to any stressed day. With the elections coming up, it’s no wonder how difficult it can be to think of doing remotely anything at this point.

Working out whether by aerobic activity, swimming, stretching, walking, weight lifting, etc., is cornerstone in de-stressing an already heavy day.

The goal here is to start small.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start with something doable. (check with your primary care if it’s something strenuous). My example will be “walking.”
  2. Many begin this journey by walking incrementally.
  3. Start by walking outside, inside your home, or at a park, for 5 minutes. If this is too small of a limit, increase it to where you’d like to begin. If this is too large of a limit, decrease it to where you’d like to begin.
  4. Do this everyday.
  5. With each additional day, begin adding 1 minute to your routine.
  6. Continue with this process and let the benefits of exercise flood in.

 

Massage Therapy

Whether you’re sore from your workout, chronic stress, or frustrations from the election process, massage therapy is a great route to take for healing.

Sure, massage therapy is not often discussed regarding physical self-care (I think most of us can agree exercise takes the cake), but I think it would be a disservice to leave this one out.

Believe it or not, people are hurting. Physically, in pain. Much of the data suggests more individuals are headed into disability than ever before. 

This is why physical self-care is so important. Even massage therapy.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Google nearby massage therapists and book your first appointment.
  • Attempt self-massage by using techniques from the professionals. This can be achieved by going to YouTube and searching “physical therapist helps with (insert pain point here).”

 

Rest and Recreation

Rest can seem like an obvious gesture for your body, but do we really practice it?

Same goes for recreation: are we really trying to have fun without thinking about work or the election?

Here’s how to do it:

Rest Factors

  • Practice power naps
  • Turn airplane mode on your phone
  • Invest in more supportive pillows
  • Look into good sleep practices (Hint: Tip #1 in this link helps)

Recreation

  • Find activities that give you meaning.
  • Look for local sports organizations to join.
  • Look for local clubs to join.
  • Remember, think leisurely activity.
  • Find activities that give you freedom.

 

Last words

I encourage you to take what you’ve read today and apply it to your life, especially during election season. You know exactly what you need right now.

Also, once the elections are over with, your wellness doesn’t have to be. Keep up on your mental, emotional, an physical self-care activities.

Let today be a new day to step into the direction you find most value. Do not forget about yourself in this process of healing.

Happy voting. 

Jacob Kountz

Jacob Kountz

Jacob is currently an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in Bakersfield, Ca.

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