How To Self-Care During A Stressful Election Season

November’s a funny month. Seems there’s always an election coming up when November is on its way. And thanks to the fact that we live in a democracy, that month can be stressful, sometimes even dreadful. But rest assured, there are some easy things you can do to take care of yourself during election season and beyond.

Intermittent News Fasting
People are naturally curious. And whether your daily news consumption consists of NPR radio in the morning, let night’s sports scores on ESPN, or something more deep cut like the Wall Street Journal or the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, when you turn on and tune in you are making a choice to consume information and commentary.

In 2020, there are very few news sources that contain little or no angle on government affairs or social issues (Reuters and AP News are among the few). Unfortunately today it just comes with the territory of being informed.

But, just like you can make a choice at the grocery sort to skip putting Twinkies, diary, beets or pineapple pizza, you can do the same with your news and media consumption. Let’s refer to it as “intermittent fasting,” but of the news type.

It’s OK to say to Rachel Maddow, Michael Smerconish and Terry Gross you’re taking “a little break” or going “off-grid” for a few days. You may find that not being part of the worldwide up-to-the-minute conversation on everything is not only relaxing—but liberating.

Talk Politics? No Thanks
You may be one of those people who is fortunate enough to have mot of your circles of friends and family being on the same page as you on social political issues. And, sure, we all have that crazy uncle or cousin out there that latches onto the latest unlikely rumor or conspiracy theory. But it’s not unusual for you to become disappointed in someone you know well and love when they support a political candidate that you find abhorrent.

During election season (and afterwards too) often your best bet is not to ask politics with family or longtime friends that you know you may disagree with. That sounds easy enough.

But it’s sometimes not enough stay away from, “Hey, Mom, who are you voting for?” Quite often people can find themselves in the midst of sociopolitical heat without even bringing up the names of candidates.

The common pitfall is mentioning what seems like a simple news event or something everyone’s talking about in current affairs. Something as simple as mentioning that weird name Kanye and Kim picked for their newest baby, or how the COVID-19 pandemic has effected traffic in your town can spark comments that then become a debate.

Your bet when talking with parents, cousins or in-laws maybe be to stick to small talk family fun, and pretend that the news and government doesn’t exist. You can leave choose to leave the outside world …outside over dinner or the length of a phone call.

Pare Down Your Social Media
Here’s one thing we know but regularly forget about social media: It’s just on the computer. Certainly, it’s great to keep up with longtime friends. You want to show off your dog or cat. You want to see people’s cute kids and dream vacations. But along with the endearing photos come the rants and troublesome non sequiturs many of our acquaintance post.

Which brings up an important thought. How many of your 1200 Facebook friends have you seen in the last five years? With how many of them have you recently shared coffee or a jog? Many of our social media connections go back to high school or consist of someone we knew at an old job from years ago.

So, it’s OK to unfollow your shouty former coworker you haven’t seen since 2010. It’s OK to disconnect (or ‘unfriend) that former neighbor spouting about their divorce or conspiracies.

Even better, you can remove Facebook and other apps from your phone. Taking a step back can often be a very easy and healthy step forward.

Reestablish Positive Routines
Some people have awesome hobbies like crafting, paddle boarding or writing. Others of us are more than content to cuddle up with a good book or make a batch of delicious soup at home in the kitchen. Whatever it is that gives you bliss or a basic sensation of wellbeing—do that.

You don’t need to pen a novel or learn a new language to allow your mind, body and soul to depart from the stresses of the everyday world and the upcoming election. Sometimes the simple things can do a lot to make us feel at ease and comfortable in a face-paced world.