6 Self-care Tips for Election Day Anxiety
Let’s face it: This year has been challenging. Most of us have never experienced a pandemic like Covid-19, and now we’re gearing up for one of the biggest elections of our time. But rather than getting political, we want to take a break from the noise all over social media, television and the internet to check in with you.
We first want you to know that you’re not alone in this. All of us are feeling the weight of what’s happening in our world right now, and we’re in this together. Secondly, no matter how much anxiety, depression or even fear you may be feeling, there are several things you can do to put your physical and mental health first.
Here are 6 self-care tips that can help battle anxiety during the election.
Have a voting plan
If you haven’t voted yet and plan to, it might ease some anxiety and stress to make a voting plan that you are comfortable with and confident in. Landry Weatherston-Yarborough, LPC, CEDS, NCC, the Clinical Director at Eating Recovery Center, San Antonio, recently appeared on KENS 5 to discuss election anxiety.
Rather than avoiding the details of when and where you are going to vote, Weatherston-Yarborough recommended that you create a voting plan that includes the location you’ll vote at, the date and time, and whether you’re going alone or with someone.
Take a break from the media
Although it seems unavoidable, taking a break from the news and political chatter is essential when trying to ease election anxiety. “News is necessary, and the information is imperative for us to have,” says Allison Chase, PhD, CEDS-S, Regional Clinical Director, Texas, at Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. “What happens is it becomes very hard sometimes to turn off; that becomes problematic.”
On KXAN Austin, Dr. Chase voiced how setting a timer on your phone can help with creating a limit for how long you’re watching or reading the news, as getting caught up in the cycle can be overwhelming.
Spend time with your pet, or watch animal videos
Animals are not just our furry friends. They’re true family members who are there for us when we’re feeling anxious, depressed or scared. Susan McClanahan, Ph.D., CEDS, believes in the power of pet therapy and how it can help those with mood and anxiety disorders, or even eating disorders.
Dr. McClanahan, the Chairman of the ERC Pathlight Advisory Board and the Founder of Insight Behavioral Health Centers, says: “Interacting with pets has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Pets have a positive impact on physical health as well as emotional well-being.”
She continues, “Pets are non-judgmental and don’t care about your status or appearance. They encourage loving-kindness and self-compassion and help with many of the physical sensations of trauma. They also assist with distress tolerance and emotional regulation. Moreover, pets are simply FUN and help us connect with our inner child.”
On Wednesday, November 4 at 1:00 p.m. PST, National Recovery Advocate and author Shannon Kopp will be hosting an Instagram Live on ERC’s Instagram with @willowthebeautifulcat. As a kitten, Willow was found wandering the streets, likely abandoned for a chromosomal abnormality one veterinarian described as similar to Down Syndrome. Today, this cat with a fuzzy heart-shaped nose has become an Instagram celebrity and an ambassador for love and kindness. Join us to meet Willow and experience the power of the paw. Feel free to bring your pets, too!
Try a meditation when feeling overwhelmed
Whether you’re a meditation pro or a beginner, this type of breathing exercise can help when battling feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. Eden Himidian, MA, LCSW, RYT, is an author, psychotherapist and yoga instructor. She crafted a guided meditation for ERC and Pathlight that targets behaviors that we know are not serving us and helps us to be present in our lives right now.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a few minutes to breathe and calm, we recommend checking out this meditation, as well as our other meditations that can help ease anxiety.
Spend time in nature
Since most of us are currently working at home and are inside more than usual due to Covid-19, it’s important to take a break from screen time and get outside. Studies show that moving our bodies, including walking, biking or even dancing, can improve mental health and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
The next time you’re inside and have feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious, consider getting outside. You can listen to a mental health podcast, such as Pathlight’s Mental Note podcast, or listen to nature’s beautiful sounds as your backdrop.
Join a support group or seek help
Feelings of anxiety and depression can be debilitating. Although most of the nation can relate to these feelings, sometimes you may need some extra support to get you through these tough times. When is it time to seek this help?
"When it's impairing your ability to function, it's affecting your sleep, it's affecting your eating habits, you're not able to get to work, or if you can't stop thinking about it all day long and you might want to use more substances to try to help you stop thinking about it,” says Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, PhD, FAED, CEDS-S, Regional Clinical Director, Midwest, at Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. “Those things are all really big warning signs.”
On Fox32 Chicago, Dr. Astrachan-Fletcher recommends that anyone who’s experiencing the above might consider reaching out to Pathlight. From free weekly virtual support groups and mental health events to treatment for mood and anxiety disorders, connecting with a professional can start the conversation and get you the caring support you need.
We know these uncertain times can be stressful. We encourage you to check out the Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center blog for more guidance on putting your mental health first. If you or someone you love is in need of professional help, connect with one of our clinicians here: 1-866-303-7854