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Election Stress Is A Real Thing: How To Do Good For You And Your Community In The Year 2020

Written by Amanda Rodriguez 

Hopefully by now it’s obvious that this is the election of a lifetime and now more than ever we understand just how important it is to vote. Knowing all these things doesn’t avoid our collective feelings of anxiety, fear, and quite frankly, exhaustion that seems to be overwhelming our daily lives.   

Which is why I’m here to breakdown useful tips to cope with “Election Stress Disorder”. Yes, it’s a real thing. First coined during the 2016 Presidential election (a moment that most of us wish we could forget), experts say that this elections anxiety is even worse. Now thanks to our constant connection to technology, we are bombarded with politics and unsettling news 24/7/365. Let us not forget that things feel particularly heightened because of 2020 as a whole: We’re dealing with the ongoing effects of a global pandemic, nonstop wildfires raging though the West Coast, and the continued violence and vulnerabilities that are happening in Black, trans, and immigrant communities.  

Those in marginalized communities may have heightened stress due to the very real impacts this election can have on immigration, police reform, and the livelihood of the LGBTQ+ community. Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on the outcome of this election no matter your political affiliation.   

With one week left until election day, I thought I’d drop some much needed tips to protect ourselves from the effects of ESD and hopefully, ease a bit* of tension. Warning,  there is no way we can promise a secret meditation or skincare treatment that can get us to a total zen headspace, but implementing some of these in the daily routine is half the work and in 2020, we’ll take what we can get.  

Spend some QT with your people (ya know, the ones that don’t stress you out). 

Let’s take a moment and give a shout out to those that value your friendship and your mental wellbeing. None of us can function in this world without a solid crew in our corner. Positive connections and genuine support doesn’t mean having to agree all the time. The key is to spend time with those who don’t spike our stress levels. It’s fine to avoid those that do, for whatever reason. You have plenty of time to catch up with those suspect family members during this year’s Thanksgiving Zoom call.  

Find a moment to meditate 

I know, it’s cliché but your brain will thank you for it. Take a moment to rest and restore during the day, even if you’ve never been a meditator. Instead of scolding yourself for not sitting silently for 30 mins, try to sit still and focus on your breathing, even if only for a min a day. I promise you’ll feel better after the fact. 

Try to stay present. 

Having nightmarish thoughts of all the terrible things that could come from repeating the last 4 years? SAME HERE. With friends, the news, and our social feeds bombarding us with constant updates, it’s hard not to go there. When these feelings and thoughts come to you, try and take a breath and focus on what you’re doing or experiencing in your space in that moment. Focusing on the day-to-day experiences is vital to halt the doom scrolling and dark thoughts. I like ending my day with my pug taking a long walk near the beach and listening to a guided meditation from Live Awake in my air pods. It’s the daily reminder I need to take a moment and practice a bit of gratitude. 

Consciously consume comfort food 

Real talk: WLDKAT employees are known to wax poetic on our latest snack hauls from Trader Joe’s (and yes, we HAVE noticed all of those Holiday essentials flowing into the store), so you’ll never catch me telling anyone to avoid food that sparks a moment of joy. Something that I have been practicing when eating those comfort foods is being a bit more “thoughtful” when and how I choose to eat them. Indulging in one or two (possibly three, no judgement) of those T-Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cups while I watch Emily in Paris with my dog in the evening and destress? It hits a spot that no other can reach. But eating the entire bag mid-day when I see an Election update that upsets me? That doesn’t do me or my upset stomach ANY favors. Our relationship with food is certainly a personal one and our practices might look vastly different, all I can ask is that we be more intentional with what we choose to fuel our bodies with, and to be gentle and forgiving with ourselves when we can’t be.  

Do ya best to GET SOME REST. 

This is actually quite funny coming from me because I’ve always been the type to hit the sheets at 10PM on the dot. Then COVID happened and my brain can’t seem to get into sleep mode” as easily. If this sounds anything like you, try making a date with yourself by setting a nightly reminder that it’s bedtime. When we make this a habit, we can wake up with less stress and a little more fuel in our tank to tackle the day ahead.  

Take control of what you can. 

Did you register to vote? INCREDIBLE. Have you set a plan on how and where you plan on voting for this upcoming election? WE’RE SO PROUD. Beyond that, do whatever you can to make your voice heard in your community. Go to demonstrations, write to your local government officials, attend virtual town hall meetings, or donate some of your time or resources to a local nonprofit organization. We all have the power to implement change in the communities in which we live. We can’t control everything, but together we can be a part of a movement that creates real change. 

I’m not going to end this promising that everything is going to be okay. We have a lot at stake. All we can do in this moment is make sure that we’re putting ourselves first, so we have the energy to keep fighting and making our voices heard for the next months and years ahead. Be well, WK friends.  

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