5 Election Day 2020 Self-Care Practices That You Can Start Doing Today

Socked feet on an ottoman next to mug and bowl in the foreground, laptop on lap covering face blurred in the background.

While it is always important to practice self-care, I want to encourage you to take intentional steps to practice it this week. We are nine months into the uncertainty of pandemic times and the forthcoming election is fraught for many folks this year. Both the pandemic and the election were the focus for the American Psychological Association’s 2020 report, Stress in America.

For some people the election is touching on old feelings stirred up in 2016. For many people the feelings of uncertainty around how the election will unfold during an already uncertain time is overwhelming. Here are some tips to take care of yourself heading into this week:

Throughout the election season I have encouraged folks to take action as one form of self-care, whether that be give money or time to your candidates or other voting related initiatives. Action can help with anxiety. I focused on Get Out The Vote initiative. I sent postcards to swing states and will be text banking to mobilize the vote in Georgia the day before the election.

The Golden Girl explains what it was like to text bank as a newcomer to taking political action on her blog.

Once you cast your vote and wrap up any other actions, it is time to give yourself some extra TLC. Some examples of this may be to turn off the news and step back from social media. If you want to engage with media, do so mindfully. Before you turn on the TV or look at social media, ask yourself “what do I hope to take away from watching the news/checking social media?” No matter your intention — perhaps you are looking for information or to connect with others — hold that as begin to engage with it. And every couple of screen lengths or at every commercial break, ask yourself “have I had enough? Is this helping bringing me closer to intention?” If you have had enough or if it is not helping, I suggest you disengage.

Try this mindfulness approach to checking social media from Mindful.

Stock up on food that you find nourishing and enjoyable so that you have it on hand next week. Make a plan to move your body on Tuesday and Wednesday. It need not be vigorous — a walk, a kitchen dance party, or taking time to stretch will suffice.

I have found gratitude practices particularly helpful in returning to the present and feeling supported in the moment. One approach is to keep a gratitude journal. Make a list daily list of three to five things you are grateful for that day. They need not change daily nor be grand. I am often thankful for particular people, and then simple things like my bed, a really good cookie, or a book. As you bring each thing to mind take a moment to feel for sensations or feelings may arise in your body.

Like practicing gratitude, practicing hope can be very supportive. Ask yourself what are you hopeful for? It can be little or big. Name it out loud or take pen to paper and allow yourself to feel it, even if just for a second. Practicing hope is a brave act, because in practicing hopefulness we become vulnerable to disappointment. This is one I am struggling with this election because I keenly felt the pain of dashed hope in 2016. I am allowing myself teeny, tiny moments of hope and being gentle with myself, because no matter what sort of self-care we practice, it should be gentle and kind.

Author of Lifting Heavy Things, Trauma Informed Personal Trainer, learn more at laurakhoudari.com

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