There is a lot of emotional build-up leading into Election Day—we may feel excitement at the prospect of what could be as well as worry. And nearly all of us are relieved the campaign ads will end, social media will be less angry and political, and we’ll have more certainty about our future (whether or not we get our desired outcome). But Election Day itself can often feel like one long day of holding our breath, hitting refresh on news feeds and exit polling data, and waiting to see what’s next for our local, state, and federal governments.
While it’s nearly impossible to simply check out from the news cycle until the results are final, it’s worth taking care to make sure Election Day and the days following aren’t lost to our phones and TVs and worries about outcomes we can’t control.
All we can do is vote, and then be at peace with the knowledge that we have done our part—but the latter is much easier said than done. The Verily team has shared ideas amongst ourselves for how we’re planning to balance our consumption of election coverage with self-care, and today, we are sharing those ideas with you.
Do you have a self-care tip you’d like us to share with the Verily community? Leave it here, and we may include it in our daily email or update this article with it.
Process ahead of time how you might feel with different outcomes.
“It’s usually easy to imagine how hopeful you’ll feel if your particular candidate wins their race, but the gut-punch of a loss can sometimes blindside us and send us into a tailspin of worry and fear. One time when I was catastrophizing a personal issue, a therapist prompted me to explore, “What’s the worst that could happen, and then what would you do about it?” As I took the assumptions I had to each extreme and then stated what I’d do about it, I realized that every possible outcome had a response I could take to it, and in each scenario, life went on. Since then I find it helpful, when I’m worried about something in a big way, to journal out my fears and possible responses I’d have if they were realized.
“If you can, spend some time today journaling about various situations—if your candidate loses, if election results are delayed, if civil unrest develops—ask yourself the following questions in response to each scenario:
“How will I feel?
“What, if anything, can I do about this outcome?
“Who can I lean on for support or a place to process the situation?
“By processing our emotions ahead of time, we are less likely to be overwhelmed by our emotions and better able to manage them in the face of whatever happens.” —Mary Rose Somarriba
“Do something else as you watch results roll in. I know for me, if I’m just sitting in front of the TV watching, I’ll likely also be checking social media to see what other people are saying. Even if I’m not personally stressed by the results, I can see myself getting stressed by seeing all the commentary, and it would be much better to watch while crocheting, baking, stretching, working on some kind of project, etc.—something that allows me to keep an eye on the results, without the hyper-focus and over-stimulation of watching multiple screens at once.” —Kellie Moore
Schedule in distractions that have nothing to do with politics.
“For getting work done around Election Day, I’m planning to head out of my house to coffee shops and libraries. At home, it will be tempting to be constantly distracted by the chance to play news in the background or keep refreshing Twitter—a nice thing about working in public is that there’s a little healthy peer pressure not to be multitasking!” —Emily Lehman
“I’m planning to get our house ready for the holidays. Last week, my oldest son and I made little paper jack-o-lanterns to hang up. Next up: handprint turkeys. (I’m not above turning on Christmas music while we do it, either.) Even cleaning is restorative: something about bringing order from chaos is calming, and makes me feel like, ‘Well, at least this is in my control.’” —Laura Loker
“It’s novel-writing November! Whether or not you choose to take on the much-hashtagged challenge, now might be a good time to sit down to write down something meaningful from your life that you haven’t recorded yet. What historical events from your life would it be a shame if you never wrote down? If someone asked you what the most beautiful event of your life was, what would you say? You could challenge yourself to recreate it in writing, so that someone reading it could feel like they were there in the beautiful moment, or you can reflect from today’s vantage point on the effects of that event on your life. Another prompt could be to write a letter to a lost loved one who you miss; update them on your life, share your hopes, and reflect on past positive experiences with them.” —Mary Rose Somarriba
“This year, I’ll be doing my nails with some glittery red, white, and blue nail polish strips. It’s a physical reminder that, no matter how contentious an election season may be, the right to vote is something worth celebrating. As simple as it sounds, I’ve found that adding a little sparkle to my 2020 has been a good little morale boost. I fully realize that a nice manicure won’t take away problems, but for me, it’s a reminder to look for little bits of joy and goodness around me in my every day.” —Kellie Moore
“I will definitely be losing myself in a book—the more immersive, the better. Maybe even an audiobook while I draw or paint. Activities that put me in a state of “flow” are the ones I find most restful.” —Laura Loker
Stay close to the people in your life.
“I’m planning to do a Zoom call with friends and family—BYOB, and you can talk about anything but the election. While it’s important to stay informed, it’s essential to stay in touch with the real people in our lives. Watching the polls can wait an hour or two until I’m done.” —Emily Lehman
“Spend some one-on-one time with a kid in your life, or go for a walk with a friend who has a kid. I find spending time on a kid’s level helps to immerse me in a less stressed, more joyful outlook.” —Mary Rose Somarriba
“I’ll be watching the results with a few close friends. It’s much more difficult to catastrophize when you’re able to talk through what you’re seeing on TV. Being with friends will also be a good reminder that things like friendship and community are much more important and valuable than any political win or loss we experience.” —Meg McDonnell
Tips for going to bed in peace—and keeping peace in the day after the election
“On Election Day, going to bed is sometimes difficult (especially if it’s late and results are still undecided). When the uncertainty is keeping us awake, it could be because our bodies haven’t finished the stress cycle. When we’re stressed, our bodies experience a hormonal shift. To get out of that stressed state, we need to give our bodies cues that we are safe—not just telling ourselves things will be okay, but actual physical cues. Whenever you decide it’s time to go to bed, take a few minutes to send your body cues to rest. Do something physical like stretch, dance, or deep breathing exercises. Turn on something you know will make you laugh, or hug your spouse, roommate, or a friend.” —Kellie Moore
“If you haven’t already, take time to make plans for the weekend! I’ve already planned for a cabin getaway with some members in my extended family. We’re already all looking forward to being in nature, disconnecting from the news and our phones a little bit, and catching up on each other's lives.” —Meg McDonnell
“I think it would be helpful to plan a nice long walk the morning after the election, rain or shine. No matter which way the results go (or are still going), it’s nice to have an outward recognition of all of the pre-election tension releasing, and a chance to think everything over without as much of a chance to get stuck in thought spirals.” —Emily Lehman
We know that our lives are bigger than politics; hope lies in people and places greater than any politician; and government, while important, is not the only factor in society that strengthens the values we cherish. Through simple acts of self care, may we find it easier to vote, and then be at peace.