Don’t let election mess get you stressed: ways to combat election anxiety

By Erica Quinones

Without the pomp and circumstance of national campaigns, many voters may not realize off-year elections just passed.

On Nov. 2, the United States underwent the first major round of voting since the 2020 election, in which voter fraud narratives were popularized, leading to the proposal and passing of restrictive voting laws in states such as Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, and Texas.

In addition to many voters finding it harder to cast their ballots, this off-year had some high-stake races involved.

According to Ballotpedia, mayoral elections for New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Atlanta, and other major cities took place.

Municipalities elected city council officials, sheriffs, judges, and other vital positions which directly influence local ongoings, often in ways citizens overlook.

Virginia and New Jersey are both selecting new governors.

Even the few special elections for the House of Representatives have the potential to tighten the Democrats’ narrow majority and serve as a marker for the upcoming 2022 midterms.

Between the stress of researching candidates, planning how to vote, and hoping turnout was strong — the last New York mayoral race only had a 21.7% turnout rate, according to the Harvard Political Review — voters are caught in a ballista of stress, especially when awaiting results as it all comes together.

But fighting pre-results anxiety is not a desolate feat with these tactics by your side.

Form a Watch Party

Why suffer in silence when you can suffer in a (Zoom) room of your closest friends?

Watch parties allow likeminded — or not — people to vent their frustrations and their hopes together, passing the time however you feel fit.

Watching news coverage of the election allows you to binge on party snacks and each other’s anxiety.

Good friends help break up the tension with jokes and conversation, passing the time with ease.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

While it seems clichéd , according to Healthline, laughing helps relieve stress by relaxing tension in your muscles and giving an outlet to your stress response. So, if you’re a more solitary voter, finding ways to distracting yourself through comedy is another path towards a more stress-free election night.

Streaming your favorite political comedies like “South Park” or “Last Week Tonight” can help you laugh out the anxiety while staying in the political mindset. Or if you need more brain candy and less philosophy, curling up with a comfort show like “Schitt’s Creek” or “The Great British Bake Off” can give you that same release.

Ready, Set, Bake

Why leave all the baking fun to the people on your screen? When you have access to a kitchen, you have access to one of the best stress relievers, according to Wired.

Activities like stress-baking help reregulate brain activity when anxiety strikes by engaging the prefrontal cortex and giving the baker a sense of control, according to Wired.

That is to say, there’s a scientific justification for busting out a dozen cookies at 11 p.m. on election night. Go wild. Feed your sweet tooth with some easy cookies or utilize the hours between polls closing and votes being tallied to practice some pie latticing.

Heavy-duty baking is challenging in a college dorm, but not impossible. Disposable pie and cake tins can be purchased at the grocery store, and other pots and pans are often available in communal residence hall kitchens. Or, if you want to stay in the dorm itself, mug cakes or no-bake cookies are easy-made treats that can serve a similar purpose.

Yoga and Meditation

Engaging your body and mind helps relieve anxiety. Like stress-baking, yoga’s rhythmic breathing and series of postures offer a mental focus, according to Harvard Heart Letter.

Better yet, yoga requires little space to practice. Just roll out a mat and pull up your favorite instructional video for a moment of peace. The additional reward of improved flexibility and balance can also serve as mental motivators for taking time to relax.

No matter how you relieve vote-counting stress, you can rest assured you fulfilled your civic duty.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

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