By Jennifer Toof, Outpatient Therapist
Your election emotions are normal, whatever they are. Anxiety. Fear. Anger. Hope. Excitement. Numbness. All of these feelings, and more, are valid. You may experience them all to varying degrees before, during, and after this election season, particularly due to the intensified political rhetoric of 2020, the stress and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and the heightened emotions that accompany confronting and fighting racial injustice. Whew. It’s a lot. Additionally, if you have children in the home, they are not immune to either experiencing their own feelings about the election or vicariously feeling your emotions.
Here at Child Guidance, we always stress self-care, but this is one of those times when we are going shout it: PRACTICE SELF-CARE TO GET THROUGH THIS ELECTION SEASON! Regardless of how your election stress may manifest, it is vital to take a step back and think about what caring for yourself looks like right now. Your self-care routine now may not be the same self-care routine that worked for you earlier this year or even earlier this month.
Here are some tips for optimizing your self-care in these times:
1) Set the boundaries you need. If watching the news, scrolling through politically-charged posts on social media, and having political conversations with others trigger anxiety, think about when and how you can set boundaries around them. Can you set screen time limits? Can you and your family watch a movie as a break from the news? Can you consciously step away from conversations that cause you distress?
2) Focus on and celebrate your own actions, which matter regardless of the election outcome. Can you (and your kids/family) reflect on actions YOU took this election season that reflect your family’s values? Did you and your family learn anything good about your country or community from the election? Did you make any positive new connections? Talk about if/how the actions you took this election season made a difference. It is important our children know (and we remember) that every vote counts and it is always important to stand up for what we believe in, no matter what happens.
3) Post-election, give yourself time to process your feelings, the past few days/weeks/months, and the election outcomes. Recognize that your level of productivity during this time may not be your usual level of productivity, and that’s okay. Give yourself the patience and compassion you need to work through any emotions you are having.
4) Find something to look forward to. There IS life after the election! Can you and your family identify anything you are going to or want to do this holiday season or in 2021? What can you do to cultivate moments of joy in your life outside of politics?
How are YOU practicing election self-care? It can look different for everyone, but the most important part is that you do it. Take deep breaths. We will all be okay!
About the author: Jennifer Toof, MA, works in outpatient services at Child Guidance Resource Centers in Havertown. Jennifer is pursuing a PhD in International Psychology from the The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is involved in numerous advocacy efforts and organizations on the local and national level and is committed to actions that improve the mental health and well-being of all.