It seems as if every presidential election season is one to be survived, but the year 2020 seems like a particularly hard presidential election season. As a mental health clinician, here are my points on how I am choosing to survive the election. As I tell my clients, take what fits for you, do not challenge yourself, and leave the rest that does not fit.
1. Contribute to campaigns that align with your interest and that you support.
You can support campaigns in a variety of ways. You can donate your money, your time, or your voice. You can write letters, you can door knock, or you can text and call family and friends and share with them what is most important to you about this election and encourage them to vote.
2. Limit consumption of political news.
Some news stations thrive off of emotional responses and opinions. Listen to news outlets that don’t use sensational language and that choose to merely just report. It is easy to get swept up in a high-stress environment where there may be yelling, name-calling, belittling, etc. What we consume via media has the same impact on our emotions and mental state. Stay informed to your desired degree, but also protect your peace.
Next time you watch or listen to news about politics, listen more intently. We are moms; we can tell when our kiddos aren’t levelheaded by the way they speak and the body language they display. News anchors and reporters are no different. Become a critical observer, and save yourself the emotional rollercoaster of regularly engaging in watching sensationalized political news.
3. Don’t talk about politics with others!
4. Scratch #3! I am actually not a fan of the “no talking politics rule”.
I would reword that idea to say, “Don’t talk politics with people who don’t have tolerance for views that don’t align with their own.” If you are that person that cannot tolerate someone disagreeing with your views, “KNOW THYSELF” and refrain from engaging with others about politics. If you see the conversation going in circles or becoming disrespectful, choose to walk away.
I think a large part of what makes a presidential election season so difficult is the idea that adults are incapable of having mature conversations about issues that are important to them. One bit of advice – refrain from having these types of conversations on social media. Social media is full of “keyboard thugs” who certainly act differently behind a computer screen than they would in person. That “critical observer” can come in handy here as you observe whether who you are engaging with truly wants to understand your viewpoint or if they just want you to adopt theirs. Instead, choose to have these crucial conversations with others in person, through video chat, or on the phone.
Remember: it is okay to disagree, it is okay to challenge one another, and it is okay to ask questions. Stretch yourself, challenge yourself, and get out of your comfort zone. Your voice matters and it is okay to share that with others, while also learning about critical issues that are different than your own.
5. Last but not least is “up” the self-care game.
We have heard over and over again that 2020 is hard. 2020 feels like merely surviving instead of thriving. Self-care is easily the most important item on this list. Self-care can look like detoxing from social media to baking and enjoying that chocolate cake. It can look like reading a book to catching up with friends. It can even look like locking yourself in the bathroom or closet just to get some much needed alone time to maintain your sanity.
No judgments here! While we cannot ignore all of what 2020 has dumped in our laps, we do have the power to turn down the volume on the chaos and turn up the awareness of what we can control. We have the power to control how we survive the 2020 Presidential Election season.