by The Center for the Advancement of Well-Being Team
One fact that most won’t debate is that an election season is stressful. Regardless of our political views, we’re all affected by our nation’s divisions, the onslaught of negative messages, and uncertainty about what our future holds. Difficult feelings such as anxiety and anger are rising to the surface as we deal with an election during multiple challenges – from the ongoing pandemic to the struggles for social justice.
Taking care of your well-being is always vital, and it’s especially important now as you’re going through extraordinary stress. Here are some well-being practices and resources that can help relieve stress during an election season:
Stress Relief Practices
Being intentional about making time for these practices can help you stay grounded in well-being even as stress swirls around you.
- Strengthen your connections. Invest in your relationships. Let your colleagues, friends, and family know that you care about them by checking in with them regularly. Ask how they are really doing and hold a safe space for them to talk through their fears, stressors, concerns, etc. Try to listen more than you talk. Encourage each other to nurture well-being during this stressful season. Share your feelings and concerns with them. Having a trusted person to talk with is critical in moments of distress.
- Set boundaries for conversations. Plan to talk in nonpartisan ways about the election with others when possible. See Mason’s voting information site, Mason Votes, for ways to do so. When discussing political views, try to listen and learn with respect even if you disagree. If others are not respecting you, end the conversation rather than have it disintegrate into an argument.
- Take media breaks. While it’s important to stay informed, limit your time on election-related media when you start to feel overwhelmed. Simply check in for brief updates. If you find yourself feeling upset by a news report or social media post, click away or turn off your device for a break. You’re in control of the on/off button.
- Prioritize kindness. Commit to pursuing kindness as much as possible during election season and beyond. This academic year, our Mason community is focusing on uplifting our well-being together through kind words and actions, as part of the Mason Chooses Kindness initiative. When you encounter mean-spirited messages and interactions during election season, you can choose to be a light of kindness shining in the darkness. Think carefully before you speak, write, or act to ensure you can do so with passion and civility.
- Contribute to your community. Donate to and volunteer for organizations that serve your community. As you work toward the common good, you’ll build resilience together. And giving to others yields a boost to your well-being.
- Enjoy time in nature regularly. Get outdoors as much as possible. Take a walk to enjoy the colors of fall leaves around you. Watch the playful antics of squirrels. Listen to bird calls. Stargaze at night. Anytime you’re in a natural setting, you can experience some stress-relieving peace.
- Practice mindfulness meditation. Research consistently shows that practicing mindfulness meditation is a powerful way to relieve stress. There are a myriad of diverse ways to meditate mindfully. Find information from our center’s meditation resources. One type of mindfulness that may be especially helpful during this time is the loving-kindness meditation. Be kind and gentle with yourself.
- Take care of your physical well-being. Get enough sleep and exercise. Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of water. As you care for your body, you strengthen your ability to manage stress.
- Plan some activities just for fun. As you’re tending to political issues, give yourself permission to pursue activities you enjoy – from baking a special dessert to relaxing with a book. Make time to play with your children or pets. Laugh with your friends and family. Look for opportunities to celebrate something good every day.
Consider these recommendations from Healthline.com on “How to Handle the Stress Between and Now and Election Day”.
Ask yourself “Eight Questions that Can Help You Survive Election Stress” from the Greater Good Science Center.
Read the article “Election Stress Disorder is a Thing – Here’s How to Cope” from Refinery29.com.
Discover why “Self-Care is an Act of Resistance” from Mindful.org.
Learn more about “How to Cope with Election Stress” from Psychology Today.
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