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Handling the Stress of Election Night Returns


04Nov 2008

I just finished traveling from Wichita to San Francisco this Election Day and was reflecting on the stress of prior Election Nights. So I thought I’d give a few suggestions for each of us to manage our stress successfully.

Manage your expectations.  Regardless of your political affiliation or views, it is probable that not all of your desired results will happen.  In fact, it is highly likely that you will be disappointed with some of the election results. When this happens, your life (or even your day) probably isn’t ruined. Realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you and want you want.

Watch the channels that are consistent with your viewpoint.  Again, it really doesn’t matter what your political position is — unless you want to become irritated, have high blood pressure, and be grumpy to those around you — choose to primarily watch those news stations that are more consistent with your views.  This should lower your agitation for the evening.

Get some exercise.  Take a walk.  Go for a run.  Go to the gym and work out on the machines (while watching the returns, if you must). Do something physical, and this will help “wash away” those tension building chemicals in your body.

Stretch.  Getting uptight, literally does that — it makes your muscles tense up.  So instead of just sitting in the easy chair or on the couch, stretch on the floor or stand up and do some upper body stretches while watching the election returns.

Set a goal for when you want to get to bed (and possibly give yourself an extra 30-60 minutes).  Think through tomorrow, when you have to get up and what you have to accomplish.  Set a “drop dead” time that you will get to bed by.

Realize that the impact on your life will be the same whether you find out the results at midnight, 2 a.m. or tomorrow morning.  We are addicted to “real time” news and have become accustomed to wanted to know the latest information right now.  In actuality, the impact on your life will most probably be the same if you find out the results in the morning, so don’t “kill” tomorrow by staying up too late tonight.

Provide some margin in your life and schedule tomorrow for being tired and emotinally drained.  It would be wise, if possible, not to pack your day full tomorrow and expect to be able to function at 100%.  You probably will be both physically and emotionally tired, and it would be good for you (and those around you) to plan accordingly.

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