Mendez is a graduate student at Rutgers University-Newark pursuing her Master of Social Work degree in clinical/medical social work.
Hi everyone! I know this is probably one of the biggest days of the year, and you all may be feeling tense, stressed, anxious, depressed and a whole plethora of emotions right now.
You’re not alone.
Millions of people around the nation are feeling the same way and it’s common these days. I hear a lot of incoming patients at my job saying how worried they are about the results and to that I think, maybe limit your news intake.
As few of you may already know, we won’t be hearing any final and confirmed election results until a couple of weeks from now. Different media posts and news outlets may try to twist and influence some biased information about the results, but they’re not necessarily true.
It’s important to stay informed, but putting your mental health above all else is top priority. If you are looking to cope with election distress, here are some simple but effective ways of keeping your anxiety at a low:
Turn off any phones, computers or electronic devices where you get your news/limiting exposure to social media
Just about everyone is on social media nowadays looking for information about the election. Everyone is either posting their opinions, sharing information or enforcing how important it is to vote.
If you want to maintain ease, I suggest turning off or keeping away from your devices for a bit throughout the day. About an hour or two off could bring peace of mind. Keep busy by completing physical or mental activities such as running errands. If two hours is a lot, try 30 minute intervals throughout the day and check back again about once or twice in between.
Listen to your favorite music
Music instantly can brighten up your mood.
Listening to any type of genre or style of music with beautiful, soothing, invigorating and exciting tunes can help reduce stress hormones intensively. Take a moment to close your eyes and focus on the different parts of a song such as the melodies, harmonies or instruments you hear. Try to focus on the parts you like the most. Humming or singing along while doing an in-home activity is also a plus!
Go out and enjoy some fresh air (social distance)
Taking 30 minutes to go outdoors is a great way to keep yourself in check with your mental health. Go visit a family or friend, take a walk in the park, visit your favorite restaurant or shop.
You could also stop to focus on breathing or listen and admire nature — take a glance at the leaves, flowers or pay attention to what your senses are telling you. What does the sky look like? Is there any breeze? This may help you find a moment of peace away from these troubling times. Something as little as this can do wonders for the brain and body.
Surround yourself with your loved ones
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to connect with someone you love. Whether they’re family, friends, friends you consider family, close peers or even acquaintances, coming together and having productive, meaningful interactions and conversations while sharing a few laughs with those you love can help relieve some stress hormones.
Dopamine and serotonin are both “feel good” neurotransmitters that we get when spending some time with people who spread happiness and good vibes. Try to steer clear of any negative topics relating to the election and if you are planning on talking about it, be more compassionate, considerate and open-minded about people’s feelings towards it.
We’re all going through some inner battle and we need to remember that we are in solidarity with one another against societal, cultural and economical issues and to respect one another’s needs.
Focus on what you are able to be in control of
Anxiety usually stems from the fear of the uncertainty, and feeling powerless and hopeless of not being able to do anything after your vote has been cast.
We tend to want answers right away and take action for things we want to be in charge of.
Although it can be highly distressing, there are other things we can do to make us feel a sense of control to ease any worrying emotions.
You can clean around the house; cook or heat up a good meal. Maybe try organizing items, stretching, singing or working out. Turn on a candle read, find a good movie/tv show and — if you have time to feel more productive — get involved in local activities. Volunteering to make a difference in the community can give a comforting sense of feeling accomplished about what we believe in and something that we are in control of.
No matter what the results may be, we are all still in this together
This election is going to affect us all, but knowing that we are not alone is the most important reminder that can help us remain calm.
We are all fighting the fight.
We all have people that are special to us in our lives. Whatever the final choice is, we cannot give up educating ourselves, spreading awareness, getting involved in doing what is best for our nation and our lives.
Black lives still matter, keep supporting LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and keep spreading love and kindness.
Stay well informed to the best of your ability, but remember that your health comes first and foremost.
In order to keep doing the things we love, we have to be in a healthy state of mind and keep ourselves in check. It’s important to know that we are here, alive and breathing.
We must remember to be thankful and blessed by the little things.