Election season has been in full swing for some time now. In fact, many states have already started early voting and collecting absentee and mail-in ballots. Part and parcel with the hype and excitement of the election is stress and anxiety.
Election day itself will likely be more of the same. And then some. As the apex of the election season, November 3rd is when many in-person voters will go to the polls and we start to see results roll in.
You can take it all in stride, though, with the right mindset and some preparation. In this post, we’ll cover some things for you to be mindful of and offer tips to make your election day as healthful and productive as possible.
Let’s dive in!
Things to Beware Of…
Don’t let the elections get you down! It’s important to both participate in our democracy (i.e., VOTE!) and safeguard your wellbeing. The first step in doing this is knowing what pitfalls could be on your path.
Election Season is Stressful!
Believe it or not, there’s a real condition called election stress disorder. While not a formal psychological condition, ESD is real. So, what is it?
- It’s that feeling of being in knots anytime you hear the words “election,” “vote,” “campaign,” or a candidate’s name.
- It’s that sense of overwhelm when you turn on the TV or radio or check social media.
- It’s that involuntary full-body clench that occurs when the topic of politics pops up.
ESD has many symptoms — such as changes in sleeping or eating patterns — like clinical anxiety disorders. Even if you don’t have full-blown ESD, perhaps you’ve experienced moments of tension, stress or anxiety.
Long Lines & Wait Times
The news and social media are bursting with stories of people waiting hours in line to vote. Some Georgia voters reported spending 11 hours queued up to cast their ballots!
Many consider long wait times to be a form of voter suppression. (The various root causes of these long wait times may also be voter suppression tactics in and of themselves, too.) Studies show that the long wait times problem disproportionately affects minority and low-income voters.
If you’re voting in person, don’t be surprised to find lines and a hefty wait.
Tips for Doing Election Day Like a Total Boss
The key is to be prepared. Understand the challenges, frustrations and feelings you’re likely to encounter. Come up with strategies to mitigate issues and create some balance for yourself.
- Make a Plan. Map out your day. Schedule in time to do all you need to get done. Sometimes a plan can bring order to chaos. That can be calming and help you be more productive.
- Get Some Zzzz. A solid night’s rest is always essential. But for election day it might be even more of a godsend. With 40 winks in your bank, you may find yourself more capable of facing all day holds. Plus, good sleep can help maintain other healthful habits, like eating well.
- Eat Well & Stay Hydrated. Fuel your body with good stuff. Consuming nourishing food can give you tons of energy and help you stay focused. Being properly fed can help boost and maintain mood, too.
- Move Your Body. You don’t have to do an eternity of cardio. The idea here is to just move. Perhaps go for a bike ride, dance in your living room or do some yoga. Physical activity is amazing for reducing stress and anxiety, and can lead to many other health benefits as well.
- Chillax. Give yourself a break. Take some time to just decompress. This may take the form of just sitting quietly for a few minutes, reading a book over a cup of tea, meditating or some other restorative activity. Breathe!
- Have Some Fun. Levity is a balm! Even grownups need some playtime in their days. This is a chance to laugh, be creative or let loose. Maybe play a game, do some arts and crafts, play some music — whatever makes you smile.
- Connect with Supportive People. Being amongst friendly faces is always a sure way to get the warm-fuzzies. If you’re sinking a little low, their care can buoy you up. For today, concentrate a bit more than usual on surrounding yourself with positive people and just soak up that vibe.
- Go Offline. Yes, ditch the devices for a little while. Short news/tech fasts can be an effective tool for preventing and combating election-related stress. It may surprise you how peaceful it can be when you aren’t constantly pestered by pings and buzzes and updates. It’s possible to survive — and thrive! — without up-to-the-second connectivity.
- Head Outdoors. According to lots of research, getting into nature reaps huge benefits for your wellbeing. It can positively impact your physical, mental and emotional health. This can be as simple as taking a walk around the block, basking in the sunshine on your patio for a few minutes or stargazing.
- Keep Perspective. The election is high stakes and the outcomes do matter a great deal. Regardless of the election returns as they stand on the eve of November 3rd, the world isn’t going change immediately. (It can take up to several weeks before official election results are certified.) Plus, it doesn’t serve you to fret over things that are beyond your control.
If You’re Voting IRL
Remember those long lines and wait times we mentioned above? Don’t let them get the better of you. Instead, set yourself up for success! With a little forethought, you can [hopefully] minimize and improve your wait and have a triumphant election day experience.
- Prepare Yourself to Vote. Confirm your registration. Know where you’re going and when, what you need to bring with you to be able to vote (e.g., valid ID), your rights as a voter and who to contact for assistance if you need it. Read your voters pamphlet; it provides valuable info on candidates and ballot measures. Fill out your sample ballot so you already know how you’re going to vote when you get to the polls.
- Go as Early as Possible. Minimize waiting by getting to you polling place before lines form (or have a chance to get really long). Plus, if you’re in a hot region you may also be able to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.
- Bring Distractions. Find ways to keep your mind and body occupied. Queue up an awesome playlist or watch list. Bring a book or some puzzles/games. Handicrafts are a great option. Call your family and friends that you’d like to catch up with.
- Take Provisions. Think comfortable shoes and layered clothing. You may have seen this savvy woman who went viral for bringing a chair, fan and snacks. She’s definitely got the right notion. If your distractions include a lot of cell phone or table usage, you may also want to include an additional battery charger in your voting survival kit.
- Stay Safe. Avoid voting during peak hours. Wear a face covering. To the best of your abilities, observe social distancing. Don’t stick around any longer than you absolutely have to. After voting, use hand sanitizer and wash your hands ASAP. Pretty much follow CDC guidelines and good old common sense.
- Go with a Buddy. If you can do so safely, taking a family member of friend is awesome for a couple of reasons. First, company — great for avoiding boredom and if you need to step out of line for a bathroom break. Second, you’re ensuring another person is voting!
Elections are stressful times. You have the power to reduce and manage that stress, though.
With some advanced planning, November 3rd can be a productive and healthful day. There are tons of ways to beat anxiety, boredom and any other negatives whether you’re voting in person or just waiting for the results to come in (because you voted early or by absentee or mail-in ballot!).
#IGNITEthevote and have safe and enjoyable election day.