How to take care of your mental health during election weeks

How to take care of your mental health during election weeks

SCHEDULE
Remember to sleep, eat healthy, hydrate, exercise, ADLs, clean your house, and speak to your therapist. These things don’t change, the environment does.

NEWS
Define and create boundaries on your time exposed to news and social media.

Rather than watching or listening to coverage at random throughout your day, create a time block for catching up. This can be in the morning as you prepare for the day or in the evening as you wind down—whatever works best for your schedule.

Select your news sources beforehand so that you’re not bouncing around on the TV or scrolling Twitter or FB mindlessly. Find a few outlets you trust And always fact-check. Look for empirical evidence.
Then, turn it off. Absorbing constant news is not helpful, especially when the content is simply being repeated.

MINDFULNESS
Set aside a specific hour to journal or worry. Let your mind and your anxieties run full force, during this circumscribed time. If intrusive thoughts become prominent during the day, let yourself know that you will have this hour to let them have their reign.

CONVERSATIONS
The more involved you are with this election and results , the more likely you may disagree with family members or friends. Difficult conversations are inevitable; the important thing is that we know how to take care of ourselves in the aftermath.

I recommend using a breathing or relaxation app after engaging in these kinds of dialogues or getting outside for a walk and fresh air. Don’t bottle up your emotions or shame yourself for getting worked up—it’s okay to experience tears and anger. Rather than suppressing your feelings, nurture them. Breathe. Drink a glass of water. Allow yourself to rest. Please use meditation apps that have relaxation features, such as the Calm app,  which works well on Apple and Android. 

Holding feelings inside without ventilation can actually be harmful to our emotional AND physical health. When having these conversations with others, know your points and practice active listening. If the conversation begins to feel combative, consider bowing out or stepping away so that everyone can regain composure.

SELF-CARE
On the day of the election, start it with a moment of gratitude and self-care. This may look like journaling, exercise, a short meditation, or a morning walk. Election Day can feel cumbersome and stressful, so it’s even more important to put a self-care plan in place.

BOUNDARIES
When it comes to politics, I come from a family of divorce and strong opinions. I also have neighbors with varying political stances. Having these boundaries means offering one another the space to celebrate, mourn, and process feelings as needed.

FEEL
From anger to sadness or relief. It’s all to be expected, and these feelings are valid. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to embrace these emotions and then move them through and out of our bodies. Tears, exercise, creative projects, and fresh air can all help with this.

PROCESS
In the days pre and post-election, we’re all going to have a lot to process. Be kind and carve out more space for self-care than usual. Consider taking time away from the news and social media. It is okay to take a break, to retreat to nature, and to spend a few days crying or celebrating virtually with friends. To avoid political fatigue and to keep fighting for the causes we care about, we must allow ourselves moments to step away and breathe.

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