An election season can feel stressful and fraught. While the suspense is over once the election is called, there may still be strong feelings about the direction the country is headed. Whether you are celebrating or disappointed by the 2020 Presidential election, tuning in to how you feel and what you need to navigate change may be helpful. Try the following strategies for nurturing equanimity following the election.
Plug in less and connect more
Make your personal connections a priority. Important relationships bring joy, support, and love to life in a time of uncertainty.
Look for balance: Stay in the loop but make sure you spend plenty of time offline doing the things you enjoy.
Get extra help. If things seem overwhelming and you’re struggling to manage, 24-hour hotlines, support groups, and counseling can make a real difference.
Take care of yourself
Recognize and allow your own feelings. Simply naming your feelings is a powerful way to validate your own experience. Find ways to express those feelings, knowing that hopefulness, excitement, sadness, anger, and anxiety can all be emotions brought on by election results.
Find calm. Sometimes this can feel impossible, but take the time to really think about what relaxes you. Exercising, meditating, spending time in nature, cleaning your space, taking a shower, or making something creative may soothe your soul. Even small additions to your day can instill calm; enjoying a piece of chocolate, listening to music, lighting a candle, or focusing on your breath take just a moment and can be powerful shifts.
Take care of your physical self. Get enough sleep, eat nourishing foods, and move your body in a way that works for you.
Meditations that focus on wellness, calm, flexibility and joy can guide us to a place of balance. Many podcasts focus specifically on guided meditations and offer a wide variety of topic choices.
Practice mindfulness by building small moments of joy into your life and taking notice of them and how they make you feel.
Focus your energies on the things you can control
Help yourself to education. We have limitless access to information, research and stories of others’ experiences. Find an issue you’d like to know more about and look for trusted sources, which can help you, gain deeper understanding. New information may help shape your awareness of the issue, or prepare you for sharing your knowledge with others. As Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Compassionately expanding our understanding, and crafting the way we want to be in the world is worthy work.
Express yourself. Having your voice about what you believe, hope for, and are concerned about may be helpful. What you think matters to you, and may influence the way others understand the issues. If you are part of a marginalized group you’re not beholden to educate, and it’s OK to ask others to find a different source of information. On the other hand, for some people find that it feels nourishing and meaningful to use their voice to influence the thinking of the people around them.
Empower yourself with action. If there’s a cause you are passionate about, identify ways to operationalize the values you believe in. Vote, champion campaigns of those who share your values, write letters to urge politicians to take action, volunteer, or donate to organizations that do good work.
Set boundaries where needed in your relationships
Enjoy discussing the issues with those who share like values, or with those who can hold civil and open-minded debate. Practice the skill of having honest and curious conversations with an aim to understanding the other person’s perspective. Conversations about politics, the election results, or civic topics may go better with some people in your life than others.
Approach conversations with sensitivity and caution. Values differ and feelings are running high. There may be times that discussing politics is beneficial; different topics might better serve in other situations.
Learn when to walk away. There are some relationships that cannot stand up to civic debate. Some people might not be kind or receptive, or relationships can be damaged. Avoiding discussions in these cases may be important for your well-being.
Practice kindness and compassion
First, be kind to yourself; talk to and treat yourself with the same grace and respect you would offer to others. Check out Mindful Self-Compassion as taught by Kristen Neff and Chris Germer. These tools can help you to build deliberate kindness toward yourself into your daily life.
Find ways to spread kindness to other people, animals, and the planet. Lovingkindness meditation can be healing for both yourself and the lucky recipients of your positive energies. Doing small kind acts, giving your time to someone who could use a hand, volunteering at an organization like a pet shelter, and donating to causes you believe in all make a difference.
Navigating the post-election season in a healthy way is possible. Think of this as an extra opportunity to listen to your own needs and take good care of yourself! A thriving country begins with thriving individuals.
-Danica Delgado with Annelie Delgado