Self-care tips for before, during, and after Election Day

We’re here. Finally. After four years of tumult and at least two years of non-stop presidential campaigning, we’ve made it. Tuesday is Election Day, and soon we’ll know the result of one of — if not the most — hotly contested presidential races in history. But it’s not just the presidential campaigns that have been fueling our collective anxiety. The bitter hyper-partisanship and divided electorate have made down-ballot races across the country and even here in North Carolina points of contention and argument between friends and family.

This year’s coronavirus pandemic — the collective trauma of losing more than 200,000 of our friends, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances, along with months-long efforts at social distancing and self-isolating — has also made this year a long and painful experience for many.

So, that’s why it will be even more important for each of us to practice good self-care for what will likely be an emotional — and political — roller-coaster of an evening on Election Night, and in the days following.

We’ve put together some simple tips and reminders to help you focus on your own self-care this week.

Election Day voting tips

Before we get into self-care tips, some important last-minute voter information:

If you haven’t yet voted and plan to do so, then Election Day is your last chance. In North Carolina, you can look up your voter registration information here. After you search and find your name, you’ll see your polling location, a sample ballot and more.

Still need help deciding who to vote for? See our past Election 2020 post and the section titled “Who Do I Vote For?” for links to voter guides and endorsements often consulted by queer Charlotteans and North Carolinians.

Finally, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has put out its own list of tips and resources which you should consult.

Election Self-Care Tips

1. Turn of the news

We know. We know. It’s Election Night and you’re going to be tempted to do what you may have done for years in the past: watch the election returns on TV. But, you don’t have to. If the stress and anxiety is too much, you need to know: It’s okay to turn off the news. We promise you, the news will still be there when you wake up in the morning. You don’t have to watch second-by-second updates of a stressful or anxiety-inducing news event. You can turn off the TV or switch it to a different channel, a streaming TV show or a movie.

2. Prepare in advance

We all know Tuesday evening and the days following it are going to be stressful for many of us. Take time to prepare today and during the day on Tuesday. Drink plenty of water, eat some healthy meals, get a good, long night’s sleep on Monday evening.

You can also prepare by cutting down on some of the advanced stress caused by doom-scrolling. Nothing big or new is going to happen in the next 24 hours. We promise. It’s all talking heads and bots rehashing the same things they’ve been saying for months. Take a break from your smartphone’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. Turn off social media notifications. Pick up a book or go for a walk during your lunch break or when you return from home. By taking time away from the online hubbub, chatter, and drama, you can reconnect with your mind, soul, and body — and make Tuesday evening and the rest of the week a little easier to handle.

3. Surround yourself with friends and family

Election nights can be stressful, but let’s be honest: Election night viewing parties can also be a little fun, too! Especially when you’re with close friends or family! Participating in an election night viewing party with friends or family also means you have an immediate, in-person support system should you need to vent, cry, scream, or need a hug or laugh.

But! Keep in mind that COVID-19 cases are again rising and the pandemic is not over! We’d encourage you to skip in-person gatherings and opt for a virtual watch party (see tip #4 below), but if you do plan on hosting an in-person gathering, follow these tips:

  1. Try to avoid restaurants and bars. Though these locations traditionally host election night watch parties, we’ve been seeing some restaurants and bars getting a little too packed for comfort. If you have a favorite neighborhood dive you frequent, and you’re 100% confident they have been and will continue to follow COVID precautions — as most establishments are — and you feel safe about going to a public election watch party, then do so. But if you have doubts, or if you’re in a high-risk category, it may be best to stay at home.
  2. If you host an in-person gathering at your house, you should only gather with very close friends or family with whom you’ve already and consistently been self-isolating and taking other COVID precautions.
  3. To be extra precautious, you can host your gathering outside. Find a way to get a TV outside or at least viewable from a patio, and have folks hang out outside. Being outdoors limits the amount of small aerosols and droplets we breath out, and then breath in again, from accumulating in an indoor space.
  4. If hosting an event outside is not possible, you can help ventilate the interior of your home by opening up your windows or screen doors.
  5. As always, wearing masks is a sure-fire way to reduce the chances of COVID spread.
4. Host a virtual election night watch party

You can host a virtual election night watch party with your friends and family if you’re afraid or unable to host a close gathering of friends at your home and still want to ensure you have a support system of friends and family available. Invite your friends and family to a Zoom room and then each of you agree to tune your TVs to the same news channel!

5. Know and set your limits

Many of us will still have to work the morning after the election, or will at least have other life obligations. You’ll want to be ready to tackle the next day and, plus, you’ll want to be and feel healthy in the days following the election, especially if they are stressful or traumatic.

So, think now about what your personal limits are and set them.

What time are you going to ensure you have eaten dinner?

Do you have healthy snacks to much on, instead of junk food that will leave your body feeling unhealthy?

What time are you going to bed?

Are you drinking alcohol? Perhaps you need to skip it on Election Night, or set some other kind of limit — “I will only have three beers tonight.”

How are you going to remind yourself to drink some water?

What are some personal triggers that you can recognize might unfold as you watch the election returns, and what is your plan for responding to them?

These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself in advance — and then plan for — before heading into Election Night results-watching.

6. Plan to give or get support, and know what resources are available

Election evening is going to be an emotional night for many. Same is true for the days following. As a friend or family member, you should be prepared to offer emotional and loving support to your loved ones. Of course, you should know your own limits and boundaries, but be prepared to answer that 1am phone call or private message from a friend. If you see someone post something unusual or urgent on social media, shoot a quick private message to them, check-in, and say hello. We’re all in this together, so let’s extend our hands and hearts to support each other.

If you know you might need support of some kind, do you have a plan? Do you have a close friend you know you can call?

Here’s a quick list of support hotlines that you may want to consult if you find yourself in a crisis:

The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386 (For LGBTQ youth ages 13-24)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 (online chat available)

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564

The GLBT National Youth Talkline (youth serving youth through age 25): (800) 246-7743

Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860

Mecklenburg Mobile Crisis Team: If you’re experiencing a heightened crisis or emergency, you can call the Mecklenburg County Mobile Crisis Team. This team provides assistance to Mecklenburg residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis, as well as providing access to supportive community resources.

Mobile Crisis Team: 704–566–3410
If there’s a true emergency, you should call 911 and ask for a CIT Trained Officer (Crisis Intervention Team)