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Image courtesy of Joseph Davidson, Creative Commons license

This election cycle has been particularly brutal, even more so than past elections. If you are experiencing anxiety around the election, you are not the only one.

Over half of Americans polled by the American Psychology Association report that the 2016 election has them stressed out.

“We’re seeing that it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican — U.S. adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election,” said Lynn Bufka, Ph.D. and American Psychology Association’s associate executive director for practice research and policy. The study shows that it does not matter whether the respondents were Red or Blue, they were statistically equally likely to say that the election is a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

“Election stress becomes exacerbated by arguments, stories, images and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory,” said Bufka.

Obviously, right?

Related: Self-Care Sunday: New Moon Ritual

BIPOC, women, femmes, and other oppressed identities have felt a particularly emphasized stress due to the incredible violence and vitriol spouted by the conservative party this year. (Even talking about it has got this femme’s pulse quickening!)

Those fighting the fight have to take care of themselves: it’s okay to check out for a bit!

This election night, you don’t have to be on the frontlines.  Give yourself the gift of withdrawing from the race.

You Don’t Have To Watch The Election

That’s right. The pressure is there to watch late into the night as every vote is counted, to hold your breath and the hand of the person beside you as we wait for the answer: War Monger or Racist Rapist.

Our modern age is a tough one. We live in a 24-hour news cycle and social media overload, which is really hard to process. The APA suggests that if it’s causing you extra stress, limit the amount of time that you spend with media. Sounds obvious, but it can be easier said than done when so many jobs have even come to incorporate elements of social media and are unextractable from internet usage.

The APA suggests doing severals to combat this:

  1. Only check social media several times throughout the day during Election Day and the night of the final race to the finish.
  2. Spend some time outside. No, really. Take a walk and unplug.
  3. Take the evening to come up with a plan for getting involved in the community through volunteer work. There are a lot of things in the world that we cannot change, but through community-focused volunteer work, we can make changes for folks around us. It’s time to band together.

Life may feel a bit helpless during election years, but we have to remember that we have to remain involved and engaged when it is physically possible. In order to do that, you have to listen to your physical and emotional limits, too.

If you do choose to watch the election and find yourself feeling overwhelmed, there are also things that you can do to limit that.

To Drink or Not To Drink

First off, evaluate whether or not it’s a good idea to drink during election night. There are going to be a lot of drunk people both very happy and very angry. It’s okay to stay in and away from crowds.

Do The Safety Dance

If you are out in crowds, have a plan. Keep close to your friends, especially if you are in a space that is in strong opposition to your own politics. Have a quick exit plan in case things get heated where you’re at. For instance, sports bars always have huge televisions. And Republicans. Choose wisely.

Designate a Driver/Boss

Even if you are surrounded by like-minded folks and at a private election party, things can get wild. Make sure that you’re eating and hydrated if you are partying. Even if no one is driving, someone should stay sober (or at least in control) in order to call a ride when it’s time to bail.

Consent and Protection Are Sexy

Celebratory sex? Use protection and keep it wrapped up, regardless of what is going where! It’s all about safety, consent, and fun.

This election night, take a knee if you need to. The world will continue without you being glued to the tube.

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