An Election Day Survival Guide, Staying Centered

We've voted, now we wait...
We've voted, now we wait... Lauren Drewes Daniels
We've searched high and low for election watch parties happening this week, but honestly, there’s not a lot going on. After the results in 2016, people are possibly skittish about attending a party. There’s also the issue of the pandemic. Aside from trivia games at Legacy Hall in Plano and the outdoor show Get Up, Stand Up at Kitchen Dog Theatre, there’s not a lot going on to celebrate or mourn the results of the election. It’s a weird time. 

So, we took another path with an election survival guide. Liz Goulding is a Dallas-based health coach (and former Observer contributor) who oozes chill vibes, which we could all use more of right now.

With our collective anxiety rising with each finger-tip swipe across our phones, we reached out to Goulding for some advice on how to approach and survive the last few days of the election. I asked her if a good way to channel my hostility was to spin doughnuts in an empty parking lot blasting Rage Against the Machine. She told me, “Live your truth, Lauren.” Which, it’s not. I don’t even know how to do a doughnut, so she totally called me out on my BS. See, she’s good, huh? (I do love Rage, though.) 

Tip 1: You Protect You
In her weekly newsletter, Goulding advises that instead of greeting the next weeks with dread, we should think of them as a retreat.

“Not a retreat where you go into the desert and separate yourself from the outside world, but rather an opportunity to get some space from people and interactions that leave you angry, sad, or drained,” Goulding writes.

This culminates into an ah-ha moment; we should treat this time differently because it is different. Self-care is not just allowed but encouraged. Take a hard pass on appeasing other people and avoid stressful situations you might, in normal times, push through. Goulding says that for just this week, we should embrace boundaries in order to protect our mental and emotional well-being. 

And take deep breaths. Lots of deep breaths. 

Tip 2: Don’t Layer Stress On Stress
“I've been talking to a lot of my clients about how to deal with pre-election anxiety and it's something I've been struggling with myself too,” Goulding says. “For me, it comes down to two things: How do I deal with the stress and anxiety I already have and how can I avoid bringing in more stress and anxiety than is necessary right now?” 

Ah, a stress parfait. At what point do we max out on layers? How do we control that? 

Goulding says that getting good sleep, gentle exercise like walking or yoga and finding ways to laugh are all powerful avenues to release stress.

Laughing is the best! I laughed so hard the other day it hurt while listening to old bits on The UnTicket, which is a library of funny for the local radio station 1310 The Ticket. Fake Jerry always wins or Myrtle on the Ladder Safety Hotline. If you’re partial to farting, listen to Corby call the Giants

Tip 3: Limit Doom Scrolling
“As for the second part I try to ask myself how can I get the news I need in a way that doesn't get me worked up,” Goulding says. 

This is the essence of Twitter Doom Scrolling, which should be a fragrance, out in time for the holiday season, packaged in a bottle shaped like a dumpster, and when you spray it fire shoots out.

Goulding suggests finding ways to check the news less often and think about the format of the news you’re consuming. She said she recently deleted several social media apps from her phone and is trying to check the news twice a day and leave it at that. 

“My advice would be to notice how you feel before and after you check your social media feeds, read the news, or watch the news. What are you really getting out of scrolling for 20 minutes that you couldn't get out of five to 10 minutes? What could you gain if you spent some of that time on something else?” Goulding says.

Right? Like, maybe clean out your closet. Get rid of all the summer stuff you stunk up so much it should just die, and pull the sweaters from the back of the shelf to the front. And throw half of it all away. Or bake pies! All the pies!

Tip 4: Stay Engaged in Positive Things
I asked Goulding about extending a workday “to-do list” into the evening to make sure we don’t fall off the wagon and overindulge in social media or news at night. Stay focused on being focused, in other words. 

“Fill your day with things that will engage you,” Goulding says. “Find work that's really mentally engaging, go on a walk and listen to music or a podcast, cook something delicious. The specifics will depend on the person, but try to think of things you find really engaging, where the time goes by really quickly.” 

Movies are a great escape and we all pretty much have every movie ever at our fingertips now. The kids and I recently watched The Shining then One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for a full exploration of crazy. Maybe a Will Farrell movie marathon! No one in the history of man has ever gotten sad watching Elf

Tip 5: Avoid Triggers 
Finally, after we’d exchanged a few emails, Goulding wrote to me that for the sake of brevity, she didn’t even touch on avoiding people who are triggers. Woah, Nelly! What happens if one of the people at the center of the election has been a trigger for the past four years? But, the point Goulding makes, and it’s a good one, is to make sure you’re around people who won’t add to your stress parfait. 

“Avoiding difficult people or conversations is not a strategy I'd recommend long term. This is all about getting to the other side of November third,” Goulding writes in her weekly newsletter (titled “A User’s Guide to Strange Times”). “Just for this week, where will you say ‘no’ to protect your mental and emotional wellbeing?" 
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.