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Conscious Self-Care During Election Season

A few small, deliberate choices in your day can make a world of difference.

Whatever your views and current circumstances, we can all agree it's a destabilizing time. The countdown to the upcoming U.S. presidential election can feel agonizing on top of the already intense and complex circumstances many of us are in right now.

Much is out of our control—but not all. Here are a few tips for regaining a personal sense of empowerment over what is in our realm of influence.

Take control of your media consumption. Be deliberate in all your choices. Select your preferred media outlets and formats consciously. Pay attention to the different impact that watching TV news versus reading a newspaper versus listening to the radio versus scrolling through blogs has on you. Take note, for instance, of whether two outlets are providing you with redundant information—do you need both?—or a particular outlet leans toward hyperbole that gets you worked up without offering any new or different content. If you are feeling overwhelmed by media, strip it down to its core purpose—providing information—and see how efficiently you can get the amount of information you actually need each day.

When you get the impulse to look at social media, count slowly to 10. Use those 10 seconds to ask yourself: What am I hoping to get out of this experience? Let that question help you decide whether you still want to open that app/browser window or not.

Volunteering can be energizing. It may feel daunting to even think about adding one more responsibility to your plate. But even giving just half an hour of your time to a cause you believe in can give you a small sense of control and leave you feeling motivated rather than depleted.

Hold onto your priorities. Don’t let the intensity of this moment be an excuse for letting go of the habits and practices that you’ve worked so hard to build, whether for your creative work or your life in general. A dedicated routine for writing, taking a walk every day, meditating regularly—whatever you’ve built for yourself, you built because it was important to you, and it likely still is. Don’t let adrenal fatigue erode that.

When you lose yourself in the process, art—or any absorbing activity—can be an escape. This month, if you are able to, allow your primary creative goal to be immersing yourself in your work. When we can find what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a state of “flow,” the world falls away—so write or create whatever most brings you to that place, even if it’s not the project you “should” be working on. If getting into a flow state with your writing feels impossible right now, where else can you find it? Exercise, crafts, home repair, gardening, video games… whatever you find absorbing can transport you.

Be kind to yourself. Be realistic about what you have the mental and emotional capacity for right now. Know that you are enough, just as you are.

And if you can only manage to do one thing in the next month, vote.