Written for The Argo by Aliza Brown
2020 has been quite the year. It started perfectly normal until one random day in March; our entire lives flipped entirely upside down. Most of us were sent home from school, our jobs, and our everyday lives to spend the next four months inside our homes, just waiting for lockdowns to lift, all because of the COVID-19. The world attempted to return to the way it was before the coronavirus, as governments loosened some restrictions throughout the summer.
I’m sure many of us thought the virus would be long gone by the time the new school year began. Unfortunately, the number of cases has skyrocketed again across the country. It is starting to look like last spring. Around the U.S., governors have reinstituted pre-summer restrictions, and many other state officials warn of possible shutdowns—with the hope of reducing cases. On the bright side of all of this is talk of a vaccine in the near future, which could put a close to this seemingly never-ending virus.
Then there was the 2020 U.S. election. The election has definitely been one for the history books! We all nervously waited for ballot counters across the country to complete the task of counting votes in the largest American election in history for what seemed like an eternity. The pandemic also heavily impacted the election by making mail-in-ballots a relatively new for many but popular medium for voting in 2020. This method allowed many voters to cast ballots from the safety of their homes.
On the other hand, mail-in-ballots stirred up political controversy with concerns of voter fraud. It can be tough not to get caught up in a “political vortex,” especially right now with the world so hectic. This vortex applies to both the pandemic and the election.
If there is one thing we can learn from a pandemic in an election year, it’s the importance of treating others with respect. Doing this is SO regardless of a person’s political affiliation or beliefs! Managing political disputes can be very difficult, especially when close friends and family are involved. We may have difficulty processing our feelings when someone we love voices strong opposition to a topic we hold dear. However, it’s essential to realize that not everyone believes the same things as us, which is perfectly okay!
The outcome of things like elections is genuinely beyond our control. No matter how much we argue with others about our beliefs, it will not change the situation’s outcome, nor will it necessarily change their mindset. The best approach to avoid an intense political debate, especially with people you care about, is to understand why the other person feels the way they do.
Rather than having a yelling match over the dinner table, try asking the other person: “Can you explain to me more about why you feel this way?” This approach might avoid damaging relationships, and it also can help you understand the perspectives of others. Instead of arguing, experts say sometimes it is best just to let the situation go and move on for your mental health. For example, pause the political talk, and engage in less contentious discussions.
Finding inner peace during these stressful times is critical. I suggest four ways to put yourself first and find peace right now.
- If you feel overwhelmed with all the hectic chaos in the world, do what YOU need to do to feel okay. If that means cutting off toxic relationships or just detoxing from the negative things that bring you down, so be it. Your mental health should be your main priority, and anything—or anyone—affecting it needs to go.
- Set limits for yourself. If checking social media is overwhelming you right now, limit how many times you allow yourself to check Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Even deleting the apps off your phone for a few days might give you the comfort and peace you truly need. Disconnect for a little bit and focus on yourself.
- Find a few relaxation techniques that work for you—whether it’s long walks on the beach, blasting your favorite music and going for a long drive, meditating, going to the gym, or anything else that you like. Find what relaxes you and make time for that every day.
- Consider the better days ahead. There are only two more months left in 2020. Being hopeful, optimistic, and looking forward to everything 2021 has to offer can really change your outlook on life. It’s all about perspective. A positive mindset contributes to a positive life.
With everything that has happened in 2020, it is to no surprise that many of us are feeling mentally clocked out. There has been so much stress on every single person this year, so don’t forget to give yourself a big pat on the back for overcoming all of the obstacles that have crossed your path in the last eleven months. You’re doing an amazing job, and don’t let anybody tell you any differently.
For mental health resources, please go to https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health-resources.