4 Ways to Manage Election Anxiety Using PRISM Tools

Anu is standing next to a Vote Here sign and smiling

I was hanging out with a dear friend recently just to catch up and I was shocked by the level of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear that she was carrying because of the elections.

The more I engaged her the more I felt I could identify the cause of her discomfort: Lack of control.

Like many people, I’ve been sending postcards, calling voters, and donating to candidates I believe in. So much is at stake in this election. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I’ll say it again: it is so important to vote in this election, whether you’ve requested an absentee ballot, plan to vote early, or intend to cast your ballot on Election Day. Visit vote.org to make your voting plan.

As we hold tight through a tumultuous lead-up to the finish line, I want to offer a few words of advice (that I too will be following!) to get through the next week using some of our PRISM tools. I hope you find them useful.

  1. Move from the future to the present. I have noticed for myself that my discomfort comes from envisioning doomsday scenarios of the future. “What if we don’t get the change we seek in this election?” How much more suffering will continue?” In those moments, come back to the present moment. There is uncertainty in the future; we can’t deny that. But what we can do is notice our mind’s tendency to drift to the future and gently encourage it to come back to the present.
  2. Notice what you can control right now and do it. Self-care. Self-love. Your health. Your nutrition. Your sleep. Your voting plan. Volunteering. Donating. These are all things you can control. Choose to spend your time in ways that will nourish your body, mind, and soul.
  3. Limit your news/media intake. Set a time when you’ll be engaging with the news, including social media. I personally check my newsfeed for a period of about 20 minutes; I even turn on an alarm on my phone to make sure I don’t overdo it. I encourage you to be rigid about this, and to notice how you feel before and after. An influx of negative media coverage, propaganda, and round-the-clock election updates isn’t good for any of us.
  4. Surrender and trust. This is the hardest part of this process, and may feel contradictory to hear; after all, there is so much in the world causing fear and distrust. However, we must recognize the extent of our control in this situation and commit ourselves to continuing the work of equity and justice, regardless of the outcome of the election. We must trust that, in the words of Dr. King, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Incorporating these practices into your daily life is known as new habit creation. And chances are you will need these habits regardless of the election outcome on November 3. Practicing now is a good way to ensure you’re taking care of yourself and staying focused on the work, no matter what happens in the next few weeks.

We have to rebuild this country towards more compassion, equity, and justice. This begins with now, and with leading by example. Compassion toward yourself is as great a place as any to start.