Take a break from social media
If you have a smartphone or are otherwise digitally connected most of the time, you probably get a lot of your news and current events information from social media. What was once a useful way to keep up with your friends seems more and more like a partisan platform lately.
Make sure you take a break from social media when you start to feel overwhelmed. This could be something as simple as turning off notifications on your phone. You can “mute” friends or family members on Facebook whose posts are particularly triggering — they won’t know you muted them, and you can un-mute when election season is over.
If you spend time on social media right when you wake up and before you go to bed, try cutting that habit at least a few days a week. You could delete the social apps from your phone and access them when necessary from a browser, or you could go all in and deactivate your accounts until the election is over. However you choose to do it, a little time disconnected can make all the difference in the world for your mental health.
Spend time with friends away from politics
While COVID-19 is still limiting how we can safely gather together, it’s always important to spend time with loved ones in some way. When you do gather – virtually or safely social-distanced – try to keep the conversation away from politics. After all, voting booths have privacy curtains for a reason! Don’t feel pressured to engage in political discussions if they aren’t going to be productive. Chances are you won’t change anyone’s mind — if anything, relationships could be damaged.
I know I’ve felt guilty when I’ve tried this. It seems like I’m blatantly ignoring some of the most important things happening in the world. But it’s been so refreshing to be able to laugh and joke with friends and family and to hear about each other’s lives outside of the political sphere. It may seem hard and unnatural at first to avoid talking about what everyone is thinking about, but trust me – being able to talk about something lighthearted with your loved ones will seriously benefit your mental health.
Make time for life-giving activities
What brings you joy? What do you find yourself gravitating to when you just need a break? Whether it’s baking, writing, reading, going for a jog, or playing games with your housemates/family, be extra conscious of doing the things you love this election season.
Spending time on something you love, away from the constant stream of information, will give you a much-needed brain break this election season. Practice becoming aware of when you need to engage in joyful activities, and make sure you have the time and space to fulfill those needs.
Connect with causes you care about
It’s easy to feel particularly small this election season. I often find myself wondering how much of a difference I can really make, given the huge scope of the issues that surround us. Sometimes I’m tricked into believing I’m powerless. If you’re in the same boat, it can help to connect locally with causes you believe in.
You could start with something as simple as donating to a nonprofit you believe in. Or, if you find yourself with some time on your hands, you could donate that time to a local cause. You could volunteer at a food bank, or even become active in a political cause if you think that won’t cause too much undue stress. Engaging in this way can help you feel a little more in control, because your actions are making a tangible difference.
We hope you’re taking care of yourself this election season. How are you doing? Is there anything else you do for your mental health that you want to share with us? We’d love to hear from you!
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