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Feeling Election Stress? Today, Cast Your Ballot for Self-Care

Counseling Center Offers Tips for Physical, Emotional and Mental Health as Voting Results Come in, and After

By Maryland Today Staff

Window with "I Voted" image and American flag

Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/VIEW Press via Getty Images

With most Americans reporting election-induced stress, it's important to prioritize healthy routines and seek out supportive friends, family and community members on and after Election Day, UMD's Counseling Center advises.

Even in the best of years, a high-stakes, hotly debated presidential election like today’s could trigger anxiety and other mental health challenges—but with a pandemic that has killed nearly 250,000 in the United States and amid widespread anguish over police killings of Black Americans, 2020’s hardly been a year to celebrate.

In survey results released last month by the American Psychological Association, 68% of respondents said the election is a significant source of stress—a 26% spike since 2016. Many Terps are feeling unsettled as well, whether from worries about who might win or the potential for national discord in the aftermath, a UMD mental health professional said.

“From my own experience, and from people I’ve heard from across campus, this feels like a particularly intense, stressful time,” said Allison Asarch, coordinator of consultation and outreach services and staff psychologist at the Counseling Center. “The idea we all need to keep in mind is of maintaining self-care throughout—either developing or continuing a routine of caring for oneself physically, emotionally and mentally.”

And particularly for those of us with heavy academic, work, family or other competing responsibilities, that might mean giving a little more thought than normal to what we need to keep ourselves balanced. Here are some ways—today and after the election—the Counseling Center recommends practicing self-care

ELECTION DAY

Ballot illustrationIf you haven’t already, make sure your voice is heard loud and clear—vote!

 

 


Checklist illustrationMaintain a normal routine and focus on what you need to get done.

 

 


Smartphone illustrationTake breaks from social media, election coverage and conversations about politics—and when you do turn on the news, rely on trustworthy sources.

 


Illustration of two people connecting via smartphoneConnect with the people in your life who keep you grounded.

 


Illustration of a dove and a sunAcknowledge and accept all your feelings. You don’t have to change or conquer them even if they’re uncomfortable.

 


POST-ELECTION

Illustration of person stretchingContinue to practice emotional, social and physical self-care, including maintaining healthy eating, sleeping and exercise routines.

 


Illustration of person listening to musicFocus on what you’re grateful for.

 


Illustration of friends/familyProcess your reactions with supportive friends, family and community members.

 


Illustration of hands being raisedUse the election to inspire you to act on your values. Volunteer with organizations whose purposes align with your own.

 

 

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