How to Prepare for Election Stress

How to Prepare for Election Stress

2020-11-02 08:00:00

Welcome November, and welcome to another stressful month of 2020. Unless you’re hiding under a rock, or live outside of the USA, I’m sure you’ve been feeling apprehensive about what this week will bring. On Tuesday November 3, America votes for the 46th President, along with other important senate and house races. 

I want to remind everyone that I often write about my political views on my blog and my social media. I have been doing this for years. For me this topic is inextricably tied to my sobriety and my moral compass. If you don’t like reading about the intersection of sobriety and politics or civil rights, feel free to unfollow me or unsubscribe, or skip my posts that include these topics.

For many of us the last 4 years have been tumultuous, with 2020 being the culmination of a destructive and dangerous presidency. In 2016, I did all I could to help get Hillary Clinton elected and was so hopeful that we’d have the first woman president. When the results went the other day, I was devastated. If you remember, I wrote about wanting to drink for the first time in a long time, the day after the election. I know I wasn’t alone. I received messages and emails from many of my readers, some of whom had chosen to drink and others who were so grief stricken they wanted to. 

So here we are. Four years later, at another crossroads. This time, between Trump and Biden. I’ve learned a lot about how to cope with this stress over the last 4 years and I’ve tried to take the time to prepare myself for this year’s election outcome. We are wiser and we are more prepared than in 2016 for the worst to happen. However, this year does have additional challenges. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, civil unrest, Ruth Bader Ginsberg dying and being replaced by an unqualified and conservative justice, and I’m pregnant for the first time ever (and following a miscarriage!)

That’s why I wanted to plan for this ahead of time. I’ve seen a number of resources for people struggling with election anxiety and knowing I would be one of those people, I wanted to write about it before we get to Election Day. 

There are a few things I want you to know:

Your feelings are completely valid, whatever they are. Especially when it comes to something like election anxiety, there is so much noise out there. “It’s just a presidential election!” “It’s not that big of a deal.” “It doesn’t even affect your life!” “Politics are stupid.” “They’re both bad!” I want you to know that your anxiety, your grief, your fear, your hope, your joy – everything – is welcome here. The truth is politics and a presidential election greatly affect our country and our lives, no matter if it’s directly or indirectly. We’re allowed to care and we’re allowed to be fearful about a certain outcome. Don’t let anyone tell you any different!

Plan ahead for Election Night. Make a plan for where you’ll be, who you’ll be with, and what tools you will be using to get through the night. Now there is also a chance that we might not know the results of the election on election night. If that is the case, have a plan for the next few days and the wait. You should know ahead of time that news stations and social media will be closely following the election results and if constant updates gives you more anxiety, like it does for me, I encourage you to have a plan on what you’ll be watching, listening to, or scrolling through ahead of time. You can also deactivate social media or news bulletin notifications on your phone in advance. Determine how much time you feel comfortable spending on social media and take into consideration the accounts you follow and how often they will be posting about the election and if their updates will be neutral and informative, or fearful and anxiety-inducing. Maybe you prefer to watch Hallmark Christmas movies and stay off social media all together. The point is to keep yourself safe and to limit anxiety while the election results are working themselves out. Reminder: you can’t change the election results, but you can change how you consume the media that will report these results and how they will make you feel.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. If you’re used to anxiety you already know this – all the worrying in the world won’t change the outcome. Let’s try to give our brains a break from endlessly predicting what the outcome might be and deal with the results when we know what they are. I want you to think about what the worst outcome would be, and what steps you would take to take care of yourself if these occur. Remember – no matter who wins the election you don’t need to drink. You might feel anger, rage, sadness, frustration, helplessness, and grief, and it might be painful. But you’ve felt all of these feelings before and you can get through them. What we do know is that alcohol doesn’t do much except make us feel worse in the end.

Know that whatever happens we’ll be ok. I know reading this line might be frustrating, but hear me out. No matter what the outcome – we will be ok, we will work together and do what we need to survive and make change. That doesn’t mean it won’t be painful. That doesn’t mean things won’t happen that will be laws harsher and outcomes more devastating. But we have the strength to stay true to what we believe in and fight for change. Let’s be serious – even if the candidate that I want wins, I still want to see A LOT of things change and I know there will still be a ton of work to be done. Let’s stay committed, involved, and engaged no matter what.

That’s all I have to say for now. Get your tools, prepare yourself, and take care of yourself. I will be doing the same and I’ll be here to talk this out on the other side – whatever happens.

I’ll end with HRC’s concession speech quote from 2016 because it still resonates today. ““Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9.

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