How to survive the crushing dread of Election Day 2020

Here’s what I’m NOT doing this year on Election Day: Buying a bottle of champagne for a party. Watching the results. Feeling hopeful.

I did all of those things in 2016, and now they are cursed. Yes, even hope.

This time around, I can’t do it again. I just can’t.

According to my research (that is, tweets from my friends), a lot of us are in this emotional place. Right about now we’re looking for healthy distractions and self-care strategies to cope with Election Day 2020.

Here are some ideas to keep from doomscrolling all Tuesday long:

Meditate. Maybe you’re wondering, “Why in the world would I want to sit with my own thoughts right now?”

Because it’s like the past several months have been the anxiety playoffs, and now it’s The Big Game. This is go time. Your stress just beer-bonged a Gatorade and is in top form.

Meditation helps counteract the stress response in the body, instantly decreasing the heart rate, dropping blood pressure, and quieting the mind. Headspace has a great explanation of this here.

If you’re new to meditation, Dan Harris has an election-themed starter pack here. I’m also a fan of the free app Insight Timer, which has a huge library of guided meditations, as well as a no-frills meditation timer. It’s also great for sleep, which brings me to …

Nap. I’m an emotional sleeper. Maybe you are too.

Sometimes when I feel myself shutting down from the world, the best thing to do is shut everything off and get some rest. Even a quick coffee nap can help. (What? You’ve never heard of coffee naps? Here, allow me to change your life.)

Get physical. Channel all that energy into something that will only make you stronger. I’ve bookmarked some 90-minute Peloton classes. My friend Kristi is running her own half-marathon. Maybe there’s a mountain you can climb or a new trail to explore.

Snacks. Self-explanatory and entirely your choice. But I’m from the Midwest, so I lean toward anything that involves a potato.

Remind your friends and family to vote. Yeah, a lot of us have already voted, but give a nudge to your pals who haven’t.

Dive into a good book. I’m a fan of transportive nonfiction, so I recommend Catfish and Mandala, Spirit Run, and Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. Also here’s a shameless plug for my own book.

If fiction is more your thing, I was blown away by Interior Chinatown and The Vanishing Half.

Vote. I mean, you’ve voted, right?

Scream. Did you know there’s a website where you can record yourself screaming and then someone will release your scream into the vast wilderness in Iceland?

It is precisely what I needed to tide me over until my Anger Barn (um … a barn where I can smash dishes) becomes a reality. Thank you, Internet.

Bathe. This is the day bath bombs were created for. Let those suckers fizz.

Get inspired. Read this letter from Heather Cox Richardson. It did give me a little bit of that h-word that rhymes with “nope.”

Do something. It’s not a total distraction from Election Day, but you can still help get out the vote in key states. Being part of the process is empowering.

Be patient. Remember that we probably won’t have results on Election Night. Don’t contribute to the noise, don’t spread rumors and unverified news, and don’t panic. Axios has some good tips for navigating this time.

Please for the love of pete, go vote.




World traveler, journalist and all-around nice person. Still undecided about the Oxford comma.

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Maggie Downs

Maggie Downs

World traveler, journalist and all-around nice person. Still undecided about the Oxford comma.

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