For those who live in the United States and have watched from across the world, this week has been an absolute political rollercoaster with Election Day being upon us.
The 2020 presidential election serves as a way to protect the foundation of democracy within the U.S. — but what also needs protection during these uncertain times, is our mental health.
Many reported an elevation in stress and anxiety as the election drew nearer, according to NPR and a forum by KQED. The American Psychological Association also has found significant sources in stress in the aftermath of Nov. 3, as we all wait — impatiently — for ballots to be counted and results to be announced.
As a first-time voter myself, with an all too familiar relationship with mental health awareness in the last year, stress is more apparent than ever. For my friends and I, breaking news of red versus blue consumes our waking and sleeping thoughts.
In hopes to ease the never ending worry and validate the awareness of mental health, social media outlets and medical professionals have released affirmations to cure our election anxiety.
First, I would like to take a second to pause and speak directly to anyone who is currently experiencing the harsh realities of election anxiety:
Your thoughts are seen, heard and validated during this time. More often than not, these small but mighty affirmations make the world of a difference for someone in an isolated mental health state.
Through research and recommendations of medical professionals and mental health organizations, recently published guides include the following suggestions:
Have an open conversation with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings are valid and your anxiety is a result from issues that are important to you.
Turning off the news or social media outlets does not mean a person does not care. This can be a valuable step in reclaiming our health and wellness.
Connecting with others can be just as important as self-reflection. Reach out to your friends and family who support your values and what you believe in for this election.
It is okay to cry. Sometimes, a person just needs a physical release (this one is especially important for me in coping with my stress).
Get exercise and enough sleep, if you can. Go outside for a nice long walk, even with a friend for company. There is always the potential to stay up all night to await the unknown election results, but do your best to listen to your body and when it needs rest.
Practice deep breathing exercises. Whether this is an hour-long yoga session or 10 minutes of mindful breathing in-between university classes — studies show deep breathing can calm our nervous systems to help ease physical symptoms of stress-related disorders.
Find a way to make a difference. According to GoodGoodGood, Co., helping others can be one of the best tools to aid hopelessness and anxiety. No matter who wins, we still need to continue being a part of the fight to make a difference across the nation.
Hang in there Blugolds — and anyone who is reading this column. There will always be a space for your voice and mind.
Don’t just have a plan to vote, have a plan to take care of yourself. Take even just 20 minutes to do things for yourself and the people in your life.
Nelson can be reached at [email protected].