Election Day is now 'Election Week.' Here are 50 ways to get through it
Updated 4:29 PM ET, Wed November 4, 2020
(CNN)You did it. You voted. But you still don't know who won the US presidential race.
If you're feeling anxious, know that "nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action," according to the late American painter and writer Walter Anderson.
The events of this year have been increasingly volatile and stressful for many people. They include a US presidential impeachment, a pandemic, a fraught election, unemployment, shifts to virtual work and school, and the deaths of cherished celebrities, athletes and loved ones.
So many simultaneous hardships and uncertainties is unusual. On top of all that, Tuesday was the culmination of one of the most polarized presidential elections in US history — and it's not over.
"I don't think this Election Day and week are quite like any in our recent history," said Mary Alvord, a psychologist specializing in anxiety and depression and coauthor of "Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens."
As the ballot counts keep changing and circumstances shift, "the news cycle is so quick and people are feeling conflicted. They really want to know what's going on, but then they get overloaded ... and very distressed with what they hear."
When there is so much uncertainty this week, turning your attention to fun activities, friends and family, acts of service and amazing discoveries can help to alleviate your anxiety and ward off depression.
"One crucial factor of resilience is being proactive," Alvord said. "Being proactive means doing good, helpful actions, which means taking initiative. That means you are problem-solving."
Other keys to resilience are finding support in other people and "being able just to sit with the discomfort" — which starts with abandoning your expectations.
"If we expect that (final election results are) going to take a little while, it's a lot easier to put all this in perspective," Alvord said. "But if we want results quickly, then we're going to be continually not just disappointed, but up and down with the emotional roller coaster."
While we wait for election results, you can take steps to reduce stress during these next few nerve-racking hours or days.
1. Be a leader in rebutting misinformation and disinformation. If your family and friends are sharing misinformation about the election in-person or online, engage in a respectful conversation and point them toward credible resources with factual information. Here's our short guide on how to have these conversations.
2. Go back to work. Returning to tasks that make you feel motivated, engaged and passionate can give you a sense of purpose and agency. You can focus on something besides the election, and put your mind to what you can change in your immediate sphere of influence.
3. Support a local restaurant. Order a special take-out meal this week. Small businesses have been financially struggling during the pandemic, so let one satisfy your taste buds and give a favorite local restaurant a boost.
4. Relax through a breathing meditation. Stress can harm our overall health and resilience in the face of challenges. Focusing on your breath is a form of beginner-level meditation that can reduce stress, thus calming your mind. Find a place where you can sit comfortably and experience minimal distractions.
5. Do this stretching routine to alleviate your stress headache. If anxiety and fear make your head pound, a five-minute stretch and breathing routine can loosen up the tension in your neck, shoulders and upper back.
6. Journal your worries. Write down your concerns to understand your feelings and decrease the likelihood of them showing up as stress, headaches and nightmares.
7. Take a nap or a bath (or both). Other than serving as a break from the real world, a short snooze may help you charge your brain's batteries and boost creativity. Sinking into a warm bath can help you relax and improve your sleep quality.
8. Do yoga. Roll out your yoga mat and get into a pose to soothe tension.
9. Cry. When your eyes start to sting, respond to your body's need for release: Crying is a critical part of self-care and a way to balance feelings of sadness, hurt or anger.
10. Accept your emotions. You might think that stifling your emotions will make them go away, but that can actually overwhelm you eventually. Instead, acknowledge your feelings to help them fade faster and realize opportunities for personal and political change — which can increase optimism.
11. Switch your devices to airplane mode and unplug for one hour. The rapids of countless notifications and headlines about the pandemic, the election, homeschooling, unemployment and the economy have been pulling at us all year. Putting your phone down can help you feel less overwhelmed.