• Ash

Don't Let Election Woes Wipe You Out

Two years ago, a study by the American Psychological Association found that 7 out of 10 Americans were extraordinarily freaked out by elections. With Election Day 2022 looming, we can safely assume that number's increased. So, are there ways we can participate in Democracy without losing our minds? In the spirit of American teamwork, and rather than addressing our many polarizing issues, let's look at ways to minimize the stress of performing our patriotic duty...

Take control. Voting early and planning for Election Day might remove a layer of anxiety. Early voting allows for more convenient times and polling locations. If that option isn't possible, request some flexibility at work on Election Day so you won't feel rushed.

Take care of yourself. It will sound overly simple, but paying attention to sleep hygiene, eating well, and avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol gives us additional resources when things get tough. Also, get some exercise and be intentional about who you spend time with. Finally, feeding your spirit and mind with meditation, prayer, and things that connect you to what's most important in life provides additional respite.

Take a break from the news and live TV. While staying informed has become like oxygen, why rush the pain? The results will trickle through, and we will know soon enough if we can breathe a sigh of relief or formulate a plan of action. So instead of tuning in in real-time, catch up on streaming, listen to podcasts, or jam out to your favorite tunes. Saving sporting events and other live shows is a great way to skip over political ads ... and related B.S.

Step off the platforms. We love social media for its connections, but you can't deny Americans have been harder on each other since its inception. The mass sharing of false information and conspiracy theories fuels more division than you can shake a stick at. If you can't give it up completely - I know I'm not ready to - try taking a break for a few days or putting yourself on a social media diet. Pick up that phone and call, or take a cue from our founding fathers and put pen to paper for meaningful correspondence.

Do something for someone else. It may seem counterintuitive to embrace another's suffering when we are down, but lifting someone who is lonely or hurting improves our outlook. Since late summer, I've volunteered with some lovely older adults experiencing dementia. My cares and concerns fall away the minute I see their faces. I feel an incredible amount of gratitude for how much joy these adorable people give me. If you are spiraling down the political drain, you can rewind by looking for ways to serve others.

So many severe and tragic things need restoration in our country. It makes it hard to look at the election, not to mention the candidates and their messaging with any levity. But, a friend reminded me that no matter where we land on the political continuum, we share roughly 80% of our aspirations for ourselves and this country. It may not be easy when we're constantly told to demonize one another, but why not seek the values we share? Perhaps elections would hold a far lower level of anxiety if we did.

Thankfully, we are almost through this election cycle. But, in the meantime, keep your head up and your heart open, and please participate in our unique and wonderful and flawed Democracy and VOTE!

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