Can you believe how close we are to the 2020 election?
With the days ticking by slowly but the months flipping on the calendar like the pages of a book, 2020 feels a bit like time somehow got warped in a funhouse mirror.
It’s a strange year that has reminded us how important self-care is, in part by making it harder than ever to accomplish. This is because true self-care is not just staying hydrated, getting massages, or having “treat yo’self” days. It means taking specific, intentional actions to maintain your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Easier said than done, we know.
Here are our top tips for keeping centered on self-care during the 2020 election season.
1. Breathe deeply.
We say this often, but it’s a good reminder. When we get stressed, our bodies tend to tense up and this sometimes includes a shortening of breath.
Deep, slow breathing is not only a mindfulness practice of pausing that can help reset your mind but it actually has physiological effects, too, including impacts on heart rate variability, blood flow dynamics, and other respiratory factors. It also can help you shift your body from the sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight” response to the parasympathetic nervous system response, allowing for your body to recalibrate in “rest and digest” mode.
The best part of breathing exercises is that they’re a tool you can truly use anywhere, anytime (kind of like CBD Soft Gels).
So, go ahead. Take a three-part breath in, filling and expanding your belly, ribs, and chest. Perhaps take a pause and hold your breath in, offering a moment of gratitude to your body for all it unconsciously does for you. Then exhale deeply through your nose or mouth, maybe emitting a sigh of relief as you roll your shoulders back and down.
Feel a bit better? We hope so.
You can always repeat your breath cycle several times if you feel like you need more.
Related Article: Additional Breathing Exercises to Support Your Immune System
2. Let it ouuuttt.
Even if you did let out a sigh with your deep breathing exhale, we encourage you to now take a moment and find a sound or movement that makes your body feel, ahhhhhhhhh.
Animals have a literal shake-it-off response that allows them to reset after a stressful encounter, and we can employ the same type of tactic to let our emotions run through and out of us. Emotions really do have the ability to get locked in our bodies - and a vibration from within or a simple stretch can help you process and release.
Find something that works for you. Scream into a pillow or cry it out. Elongate your body from toes to fingertips in a full body stretch. Do the hokey pokey. You could even try out Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping, which focuses on targeted tapping on acupuncture pressure points.
3. Define your media boundaries.
Making your voice heard is important - and so is taking care of yourself. We hope that you have taken time to register to vote and are preparing to cast your ballot in this strange 2020 election year, but it isn’t healthy to stay continually engaged with the political news cycle.
We encourage you to do your own research and fact-checking - but to turn off the news every once in a while. Better yet, set a “news digestion” schedule (or hour) for yourself where you consciously absorb the updates. Then, turn off the notifications for your news apps.
Not subscribed to news and still getting bombarded by politics in your social feed? Use that “unfollow” button to stay friends with people but get fewer of their election-focused updates.
Whether it’s watching a favorite comedy or stand-up routine, catching up with a friend on Zoom, watching internet parodies for little comic relief, or even trying out laughter yoga, find a way to get some full belly laughs integrated into your week and you’ll feel the self-care stress relief set in.
Laughter truly is a great way to care for yourself and relieve stress. Its effects include stimulation of your heart, lungs, and muscles because of an increased intake of oxygen. You also get a solid flow of endorphins and mitigate stress response. How’s that for a great reason to giggle?
5. Get prepared.
True self-care isn’t just hot baths and donuts. It’s about discovering what true wellness actually looks like for you, what you really need to be happy and healthy and fulfilled. More often than not, this isn’t just eliminating pain and discomfort in the moment. It requires a little bit of preparation and a little bit of planning to achieve longer-term.
One of the best ways to avoid stressful last-minute surprises is to do your research and be prepared. If you intend to cast your vote this November (and if you don’t, we urge you to consider it), now is the time to start getting all your birds in a row for a smooth voting experience.
First, are you registered to vote, and is your voter registration current?
You can register or check your registration via HeadCount in less than two minutes.
Second, know your voting rights and what’s on your ballot.
Democracy Works has great state-by-state information on registration and voting rules so you can be prepared for your jurisdiction’s laws. You can even get information on which states allow you to vote after a felony conviction and what that looks like.
Ballotpedia gives you the opportunity to look up a sample ballot information based on your address and upcoming election date. You can also contact your state or local election administrator for an official sample ballot.
Lastly, get informed about voting during COVD-19.
More states than ever before are offering early voting and mail voting this year in response to the pandemic. Get state-specific information on voting during COVID-19 to make sure you make use of the best option available for you.
Healthy Voting also gives information and recommendations from a health-conscious perspective.