6 Ways to ~Try~ to Stay Sane on Election Night (and the Aftermath)

By Julianna Poirier

Like many others, I cannot seem to shake the anxious feeling I get every time someone brings up the 2020 Election. Even a yard sign sends me spiraling into despair as a million scenarios, topics, and concerns rush through my head all at once. Obviously, as today is November 3rd, my feelings have only escalated. Thirty years from now, when someone asks me about the 2020 Election, I know that “anxiety-inducing” is going to be a phrase I use to describe it.

As an avid consumer of the news, I have been following this election for over a year now. Words cannot describe the surreal feeling of watching months of devotion and chaos all come down to one day.

I feel like I am in a restless state of purgatory as the nation’s fate is finally being decided and there is nothing more left for me to do about it. I also know that I am not alone in these feelings. This election carries significant weight for most Americans, especially for those in younger generations like myself.

The idea of the kind of America that we, as a country, want to live in (and will be living in for decades to come) will be determined tonight or within the next few days. We are going to see who the American people see as an embodiment of our values. This can be extremely scary and overwhelming, especially if we have to face a result we don’t want.

Despite the extreme consequences of the 2020 Election, I have been reminding myself that there is truly nothing more I can do at this point. I have cast my ballot, and I just need to wait it out until the votes are counted and we have results. If you’re a restless person like I am, you’d know that this is obviously easier said than done. To try to cope and help others out, I have compiled a list of things I am doing today to try to stay sane during Election Day and the aftermath, however long that is.

1. Keep Yourself Busy

When you are anxious, there is literally nothing worse than sitting in your room and mulling over everything that is causing you distress. Trust me, I know. We need to remind ourselves that constantly obsessing over something that we no longer have power over is counterproductive. The last polls don’t even close until 1:00 AM EST in Alaska, and this year, the counting of absentee ballots is most likely going to prolong the process in many key states like Pennsylvania.

To pass the time, try to actively keep yourself busy. Go for a walk outside (if you are in a place where you can bear the weather), work out at the gym, journal, or call a friend and have an apolitical conversation. Make time for whatever it is that you love (hence why I am writing this blog post). These tiny distractions can go a long way in making us feel a little less helpless.

2. Communicate Your Feelings

We are all in this together. The entire country, no matter what side you are on. It is not very hard to find someone that is feeling the exact same way as you are. Venting about how you feel with someone you trust can act as a release, as long as you don’t get yourself too worked up. For students that have class today, let your teachers and professors know if you are too stressed to participate in class. Communicating your feelings to someone else can also help you to acknowledge and accept your emotions.

3. Be Prepared for Chaos & Confusion (and please don’t get your news from just anywhere)

If you think back to the 2020 Democratic Iowa Caucus, we had candidates falsely claiming victory when results did not come in fast enough. This was on a way smaller scale and still managed to create mounds of confusion. There is no way to guarantee that candidates won’t try to claim victory prematurely. We must prepare ourselves for false claims from candidates, and we need to stay calm if this occurs.

This also leads to my next point: rely on trusted sources for your news. If you are so inclined to look at social media, please fact-check everything you see with trusted sources. Cali and I consume the Wall Street Journal and NPR like there is no tomorrow. The New York Times is also a good source to refer to for updates. If you don’t like to read, listen to one of their many podcasts covering the election, or tune into your local NPR radio station. Some people like to watch TV news, but I personally stay away from it because the over-sensationalization on broadcast television only contributes to my anxiety.

4. Keep the Social Media to a Minimum…

I know it can be extremely tempting to scour Twitter for any inkling of a hint at the results, but this will only exacerbate your stress. Try to limit your social media consumption because it isn’t going to be your best source of news on the election anyway.

5. …And Stay Away From Unproductive Fights

This directly correlates with staying away from social media because the Internet is a breeding ground for trolls. For the sake of your mental health, DO NOT — even if it is oh so tempting — fight with someone about politics today. You (I hope) already voted. They (most likely) already voted. Fighting about the XYZ of each candidate will get you nowhere. At this point, the election results will speak for themselves, so stay off of the comments section of that Trump supporter’s TikTok.

6. Remember: We are ALL in This Together

I said it before, but it is worth repeating. We cannot forget that the entire country is experiencing this election. Everyone feels some form of apprehension (some definitely more than others). At the end of the day, we are all Americans, and I would like to think that most of us want harmony.

If there is one thing our country needs more of, it is empathy. Once the results are officially declared, it is on us to come together and respect one another. To move forward from all of the despair of 2020, we need to try to understand one another and find common ground. How we respond to this election can likely affect the future of our country for decades, and we need to come together. I know I am an optimist, but I think we are capable of it.

I am just trying to take everything one step at a time until the results are declared. I am going to continue to listen to Michelle Obama’s podcast to remind myself that there are still good people in this world. People like Michelle keep me from losing my faith in humanity.

Even as I am writing this, my head is swarming with countless doomsday scenarios, and I need to actively remind myself to relax. There is nothing more we can do right now other than care for ourselves. Today is not a normal day, so don’t berate yourself if you cannot be normal today. Don’t spiral. Just wait for the results, and we can all move forward from there.

Originally published at https://www.pinklemonadeproj.com on November 3, 2020.

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Two girls in college trying to turn lemons into lemonade.

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