Many folks are already feeling the stress and tension of this upcoming election. Some of you may be remembering how hard this day was in 2016, or maybe it's your first time paying attention to election night. While we don’t know the outcome of the election, we do know that we need to take care of ourselves and our communities regardless of the result.
Being incredibly stressed will not help you when it comes to responding to the results as they unfold. And whatever actions might need to be taken will be much easier if you make sure your basic needs are met. Whether it’s gearing up to seguir la lucha against Trump, or working to push Biden to be accountable to our communities, we need to be well-cared for and ready.
So, once you’ve done your voting or volunteering thing, here are five ways you can proactively take care of yourself on Election Day.
Decide now what you’ll need that day, into the evening, and potentially throughout the coming days as the results unfold. Do you want to be on zoom with friends watching the results? Do you want to turn off your phone and the internet and play games or watch movies? Do you want to cook your favorite meal, take a nice bath and check the news in the morning? There is no wrong way to do this, it’s just important that you take some time now to reflect on what will serve you best and get the people and resources together to make it happen.
There are many scenarios for how things might go down on election night. There may be misinformation, misleading results and a long wait to know the actual outcome. There is nothing wrong with turning off your phone and waiting to check in when the information is more concrete and reliable, especially if it will save you stress. There is also nothing wrong with wanting to know how the vote is going. But remember that scrolling through social media is pretty much guaranteed to get your heart rate going, so give yourself permission to take a break if need be.
Don’t forget the basics. Food, sleep, exercise, breathing. It’s easy to get so caught up that we forget to take care of our bodies, and that just makes our nervous system more susceptible to extreme responses to stress. Don’t forget the basics. Make sure you eat enough, drink enough water, get the rest you need. Move your body if that is accessible and helpful to you. Take deep breaths. Whatever tools you usually use to keep yourself well, make an extra effort to prioritize them.
Social support is a major component to navigating stress. Because of COVID, we might have to be more creative than usual about making sure we’re in touch with our folks. Start a WhatsApp thread with your besties. Make a plan to check in with your familia at a certain time. Plan to go on a socially distant walk with a friend. Organize a zoom call just to hang out. Whatever will keep you plugged in to your networks and keeping you grounded in your community is the key.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that Dia de los Muertos basically coincides with Election Day this year. For many in the Latinx community, our connection to our ancestors can be an important source of support during difficult times. If you have any practices around this, incorporate them into how you spend your time on election day. Light some candles, spend time with your altar, and don’t forget the kind of challenges and obstacles your people have survived before you. And if you’re looking for suggestions on how to honor Dia de los Muertos this year, including some virtual events, check out the Mijente offerings.