6 Things To Remember as You Cope With the 2020 Election
Take a deep breath in…
And let it out.
If you’ve participated in the United States election, or are watching closely from afar, you might have needed that moment to breathe—especially after navigating an incredibly stressful political season.
You’re not alone in the slightest if the 2020 presidential election has left you feeling weary.
It’s important we all remember that it’s possible to heal from the intense emotions we’ve endured and continue to experience.
We’ll repeat that one more time: Collective healing can be possible—even when it seems like something unfeasible in this moment.
Regardless of the final outcome of this race, we’ve been through a lot and the accumulated stress can take a serious toll. To help you cope post-election day, we gathered resources and strategies you can implement to take on this shift with the care you need.
Make time to breathe
In the same way that deep breath at the top of this article felt good, so will countless other moments of intentional breathing. The key is prioritizing them, especially when you feel stressed or anxious.
It turns out, the act of exhaling is directly connected with our parasympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for our ability to feel calm or soothed. “Even just a short session of mindful breathing can work wonders,” yoga and mindfulness teacher Claire Grieve tells Shine.
The Shine app is full of meditations that can help you start a breathwork practice. Additionally, there are plenty of different techniques that can help you breathe through a moment. Here are a few of our favorites:
The nostril switch: Breathe in and out for a few breaths, filling your lungs and fully emptying them. Place your right thumb over your right nostril. Breathe in for 4 counts. Release your right nostril and place your right pointer finger over the left nostril. Breathe out for 4 counts, then in for 4 counts. Release your left nostril and place your thumb back over your right nostril, breathing out for 4 counts and back in for 4. Repeat for at least one minute, or until energized.
4-7-8 breathing: Come to a comfortable seated position and close your eyes. Place the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Hold this position for the duration of the exercise. Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds. Hold the breath for 7 seconds. Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds. Start with four cycles to feel the effects, though it’s noted you should do no more than 8 reps in one sitting.
The 5-finger breathing: First, bring your hands in front of you. Then, place the index finger of your right hand on the outside of the pinky finger on your left hand. As you breathe in, trace from the bottom of your pinky finger to the tip of your pinky finger. And as you breathe out, trace down the inside of it. Repeat that with all of your fingers before you start to reverse it and go the other way back to your pinky. Don't forget to notice how many senses you're using right now: You're paying attention to your breath and lungs. And you’re feeling this sense of touch with your hands as they work together.
Think about a holistic self-care plan
You might have implemented a voting plan this election season, but did you think about a self-care plan? We created a quiz to help you think about your needs and what your self-care plan might look like. Answer a few questions to get a personalized plan with tips on how to navigate this stressful season.
Or: Create your own self-care plan and write it out so you can turn to it when you’re feeling distressed. Some things to consider as you think through your plan:
Boundaries with the news and technology: It’s easy to succumb to a doomscroll every now and then, but more often than not, endless time with the news and social media platforms can exacerbate stress. Consider stepping away or developing a plan to help minimize your time with the news. Maybe that means logging out of apps like Twitter, or coordinating with friends and family to get updates. Whatever this looks like for you, know that it’s 100% OK to give yourself permission to step back.
Journaling questions to check in with yourself: You can’t care for yourself if you don’t know what you need—and you can pinpoint what those particular needs are by checking in with yourself periodically. Sometimes it can be hard to know what to actually ask yourself if you’re reflecting, but this guide can help you ask questions relevant to the election and how it has impacted your mental health and daily routines. If that feels daunting, try turning your journaling time into a moment to practice and write down your gratitudes.
Prioritize your sleep: Sleep is the fuel we need to function, and prioritizing it can help our mental health tremendously. Make sure within your self-care plan you have space to plan for how to tackle sleep issues and create an environment conducive to quality rest. Maybe that means a nighttime routine with limited screen time, or a few of your favorite Nightcaps from the Shine app in your rotation. Whatever it looks like, know it’s OK to adjust as your needs change.
Heal with community
You don’t have to go through this difficult time by yourself. If you find yourself physically unable to connect with loved ones or those around you, consider joining digital communities in this time that can offer support.
One of our favorites: Ethel’s Club. The digital community was created by and for BIPOC, and their daily programming is thoughtful and helpful towards healing—regardless of where you might be on your journey.
Because of remote life due to COVID-19, there might be other digital communities aligned with your interests that can help you channel any energy or anxieties into something that feels soothing. Try searching for fitness groups or studios in your area or that you feel aligned with—like Public Run Club or BK Yoga Club, for example—that offer digital classes you can use to feel connected with those around you.
Consider therapy for deeper healing
Asking for help from trained professionals is not a weakness—and sometimes, therapists might be best equipped to help guide you safely through your healing journey. Their expertise can help you notice behaviors, shift your self-talk, and sow the seeds for long-term growth. But we get it: Finding a therapist can be tough.
Writer Aisha Beau gathered organizations you can turn to if you’re seeking therapists of all identities. Here are some places to get started: Therapy for Black Girls, Latinx Therapy, South Asian Mental Health Initiative & Network, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, Asian American Psychological Association, Melanin & Mental Health, or Open Path Collective.
Don’t forget to nourish yourself
When you’re overwhelmed or anxious, it can be easy to forget to do everyday tasks that might help you feel better. Because we’re entering a time of high stress, create a system that can work for you and help you navigate the ups and downs of the coming days or weeks.
For some, that might mean getting vulnerable and opening up dialogue with loved ones about holding you accountable. Maybe that means a daily check-in about what breakfast looked like for the day, or an opportunity to remind each other to drink water and find a moment of peace.
Another way to do this is by following accounts like @tinycarebot on Twitter for those much needed reminders to nourish yourself throughout the day. Set notifications for their tweets and use those reminders (and Shine notifications!) to spark some serious self-care.
Find pockets of joy
Despite the rough few months leading up to the election—and a rough 2020 overall—you deserve joy. Don’t be afraid to savor the big and small joys that come up during this time, and know it’s also OK to create these moments in your life for yourself, too.
That can look like so many different things, but here are some ideas of how we at Shine HQ will be cultivating joy during this time: Making playlists, watching our favorite TV shows, baking new recipes, finishing puzzles, or playing games solo and with loved ones.
Your journey to healing will be uniquely yours, but what matters most is that you trust it’s possible.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, know that seeking help is a strength—not a weakness. If you or someone you care about needs help, reach out to one of the many resources here.
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