9 Self-Care Tips to Counter Election Fatigue

With just two weeks until the conclusion of an election season that’s seen some of the most divisive, mean-spirited, and disturbing rhetoric in recent memory, it’s probably safe to say that most of us are feeling pretty battered and exhausted — not to mention deeply sorrowful over the ugly, coarsened flavor of our public discourse.

We may find ourselves arguing with our loved ones, losing patience with our children and grandchildren, feeling critical and judgy of friends, co-workers and neighbors, and to top it all off, we may be feeling like our very principles, the beliefs and values that give us purpose and make us feel fulfilled in life, are under attack, and need defending.

I mean, really. We’ve been carrying the weight of existential Covid fears, wending our way between scattershot, inconsistent public health practices, and absorbing the rising tension across the country that erodes our sense of safety, trust, and well-being. Not only that, but the news cycle is doing what it always does: bouncing from one story to the next with headlines designed to catch your attention and pull an emotional response, highlighting stories that play to controversy, often broadcasting conflicting stories as information changes daily.

This tactic serves the media machine well to get clicks and views — but when we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by it, that sensation can be a result of simply trying to process more information at once than we’re equipped to handle. In fact, it happens to be a function of how the brain and nervous system interact with data. When we get new, fluid, and changing information on a 24/7 news cycle, it changes the way our brains perceive, process, and categorize the data they’re given as well (see this article from Joseph Firth, et al for more detail).

So, if two more weeks feels like an eternity that you’re just not ready to face right now, take a moment to consider that taking a break just might be the key to getting through the next whatever-may-come. 

Granted, that’s often easier said than done (and, if we’re being real, it's about as easy as choosing to interrupt that addictive series we’ve been binge-watching and go to sleep), which means making a conscious act of will to shut off or log off the media vehicle of your choice. Whether that’s the TV, radio, podcast, or social media, tap into your extraordinary willpower, lock it out of your headspace, and cleanse your palate with some metaphorical sorbet.

Chances are, you feel like you should be watching, vigilant, on alert. Don’t believe it. You gotta break away. Rest assured, the news cycle will continue without you, and it’ll still be there waiting (looming, even) when you’re ready to come back to it.

“Taking a break” doesn’t have to be a monumental effort. It could simply mean:

  •     Go for a long, mindful walk in nature.
  •     Indulge in some deliciously shallow, morally reprehensible gossip with a friend.
  •     Cook something complex enough to absorb all your attention.
  •     Rock a baby, commune with an animal.
  •     Head immediately for a soup kitchen and feed some hungry people.
  •     Get a therapeutic massage, followed by some reflexology and a face massage.
  •     Go for a serious run, a bike ride, a swim.
  •     Dance to your favorite music while admiring yourself in the mirror.
  •     Listen to some guided imagery.

Treat yourself to moments of peace, when you can find them — and when you can’t, give yourself permission to create them.

All best,