Today’s election is a culmination of four long years of a Trump presidency, seven months of a global pandemic, and six months of the globalized Black Lives Matter movement. It’s no wonder that this election is a huge drain on our mental and physical health. It can feel all-consuming and life-changing in the calmest moments, and apocalyptic in the worst. But whether you feel ready or not, the election is here, and we need to take care of ourselves and each other. When I feel out of control and powerless, investing time in my self-care rituals and helping my community almost always brings me a sense of peace. In an interview with WhoWhatWear, Emily Anhalt, Doctor of Psychology, said “mindfulness is about slowing things down and proving to yourself that you can handle discomfort. You can do hard things—you can survive tough moments” and right now we all need that assurance. And sometimes, the very best way to feel better is to reach out and help someone else.
Here are 5 ways you can support yourself and your community this Election Day.
1. Set a Self-Care Plan
Before we can support others, we need to make sure we also have plans in place to support ourselves. Be realistic about your self-care for Election Day: if you know you’re going to have to watch the results pour in, mentally prepare yourself that there most likely will not be a definitive result on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. It can also be really helpful to have a news-free space where you are able to retreat to every hour to either connect with a friend, do something physical like dance/practice yoga or watch funny TikToks. Ten Percent Happier, a free stress-relief app has new guided meditations about the election on Resilience and Transforming Anger. The BIPOC-owned mental health app, Shine, can help you plan your election self-care with a really helpful short quiz. Apps like these are great ways to take five minute breaks in between watching election coverage. Because of the uncertainty of tomorrow and the days following, it’s also a smart idea to set a hopeful bedtime for you to shut off and do your best to rest.
2. Stay Socially Connected
Make a list of the people who bring you the most comfort, energize you, and make you laugh. Connect with them today and ask about their self-care plans. Try to find times throughout the day and night to call, text or just share funny memes and TikToks. You can take this time to talk about your election feelings or just escape for a minute to laugh or cry with a loved one. Being connected to others can really help lessen anxiety and feelings of isolation.
3. Volunteer (if you can)
It may be too late to volunteer as a poll worker, but it’s never too late to volunteer your time and care. You can phone or text bank in your state or city by contacting local organizations or national ones like Indivisible. You can copy Paul Rudd who bought cookies for early voters in Brooklyn last week and bring food, water, or PPE for people waiting in long lines. If you can’t make it out to the polling places, donate or report a long voting line to Pizza to the Polls, a nonprofit that delivers pizzas to voters waiting at crowded polling sites.
Redistributing your wealth to local mutual aid groups and larger nonprofits is a great way to stop those feelings of powerlessness and truly invest in your community. In New York City and Los Angeles, the Peoples Bodega provides free clothing, food, and PPE to anyone who needs it. During early voting, they have brought this effort to polling sites, providing snacks, coffee and music for those waiting to vote. To combat voter suppression, donate to the League of Women Voters, a nonprofit devoted to education, grassroots organizing and legal action surrounding the right to vote.
5. Make time to nourish yourself
Nourishing yourself can include any of the activities above but also includes time for fun, for exercise and for eating. If drawing is your thing, set aside a sketchbook for the day and turn to it when you’re feeling particularly on edge. If you prefer writing, try going on a walk and sitting in a park to jot down some feelings or thoughts. Plan to spend time on cooking and eating some of your favorite foods throughout the day. When we’re really stressed the simplest things can bring us the most calm. Take a bike ride, take a walk— even if it’s just to get a coffee and focus on what you can do to remain hopeful and helpful to yourself and your community.
Header illustration by Gabriella Shery
Gabriella Shery is an illustrator, graphic designer, and comic artist from Brooklyn, New York. You can find her work on Instagram at @gabshery, or on her website at http://gabriellashery.com.
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