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#SELFCARESUNDAYS: gal-dem on self-preservation and surviving the general election

24 Nov 2019

The general election is fast approaching – in fact, with just a handful of days left to register to vote (26 November) and less than three weeks until we cast our votes, it can all be a little overwhelming. 

Stress, anger, sadness, disillusionment and just pure fear in this political climate feels like the norm. According to a poll by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), 1 in 3 adults say their mental health has been affected by Brexit – and it’s easy to see why. We look at the news and see in real-time how our world could be turned upside down due to the election. Sometimes it can feel like we’re completely voiceless with no control over the trajectory of our lives (but that’s why it’s so critical to vote!). And for people of colour, with racism on the rise since Brexit, it’s a particularly scary time. 

But one of the most important things we have to think about – whether we are campaigning, scrolling on Twitter or having a heated political debate with our family and friends, is our own wellbeing. So here’s how the gal-dem staff are unwinding, destressing and prioritising self-care in the lead up to the general election: 

Niellah – lifestyle editor 

I often find my mind spiralling when I think about the future of Britain and what that looks like for me. I used to think progress was linear with time, and it’s scary to think that’s not always the case. But for this general election, writing in family and friends group chats and making sure everyone’s registered to vote puts my mind at ease. Outside of that, when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, helpless or furious – I often turn off push notifications on my phone for social media sites and news apps. I find a lot of my stress is sadly linked to my phone and before you know it, I’m down a Twitter rabbit hole. Instead, I like to choose when I’m ready to engage in my own time rather than being taken by surprise. Talking to my friends IRL about our joint worries also makes me feel less alone.

Leah – politics editor 

Consuming wall-to-wall election content can take its toll on your mental health, and apparently your immune system too. I’ve been struck down with a cold over the past week so I’m mainlining a home remedy to keep the fire burning in my belly for the upcoming election, and not my central nervous system. The recipe is simple: make a mug of black tea, add grated root ginger, a quarter of a fresh lemon, chilli flakes, and honey to sweeten the bitter pill of another 5 years of Tory austerity if we don’t mobilise for 12 December!

Mariel – head of brand partnerships 

I’m thinking of that saying, “to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail”, and trying to swing it into, like, “the best way to care for self is to self for care” – but that doesn’t make sense. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is the best way to prepare yourself for the coming weeks is to prepare to have your voice heard, so register to vote, people! Make sure you do this today so that, come tomorrow when everyone is in flat panic mode, you are safely and snugly recorded as a registered voter for 12 December.

Following that, my go-to self-care is YouTube. I know that the platform comes with its share of algorithmic, spam-ad, “start-free-trial” nonsense, but there is something infinitely relaxing about losing yourself in autoplay lists of your favourite content creators’ gibberish. My current obsession is sewing tutorials, specifically from the calming, magical, and actually hilarious Wendy Liu, who goes by WithWendy. Enjoy her lulling escapades into making puffa jackets from sleeping bags, battles with pleated tulle, and lists of favourite organisational furniture, and also pick up a cute clothing hack along the way. 

Tara – music editor

As an anxious Pisces, I am someone who is overwhelmed by the smallest of things. Decisions like, “what should I have for lunch?”, and even replying to very basic text messages from my mum are things that can genuinely leave me lying on my bed in a state of deeply troubled inertia. So you can imagine how I am feeling in this time of general election discourse, when I am struck by discoveries like, “oh god, my friend is voting Lib Dem,” as well as the more general anticipation of things like, “oh god, what if there’s another term of Tory rule?” All of this is exacerbated by SAD – we love a winter election!

Taking breaks from the internet and social media is obvious but necessary; going on walks by bodies of water is soothing; taking all my supplements and using one of those light therapy lamps is something I’m trying to be better about, too. Also, I am always a fan of self-care via listening to music I love and singing along with my eyes closed – it feels very healing somehow (with apologies to my flatmate). But the thing that will help my anxiety most in this instance is going canvassing – feeling like I am actually being active up against the terrifying stakes is going to be essential.

Alysha – partnerships manager

It’s very easy to feel tense and bitter when reflecting on the world’s leaders and current state, especially for us in the UK. The implications of a Tory win are terrifying, and the pressure of feeling like you need to convert everyone who doesn’t share your view is a big, unrealistic weight. It’s important to make sure you educate and mobilise as many people as you can, but it’s more important to make sure you don’t give too much mental energy to things that are beyond your control. Some people just aren’t going to be persuaded.

A quick way I love to destress is by having a hot shower or bath. I automatically feel so much better when I’ve spent time making myself feel clean and fresh. The feeling of hot water running over my head and body instantly makes me feel less stressed. Add a cup of tea and comfy pyjamas and I’m feeling good. I also find comfort in talking to the people close to me who I know feel the same way. 

Rosel – editorial and commercial intern

As an EU citizen, I can’t vote in this election and so my self-care is geared towards offsetting some frustration about this. I’ve gotten into obsessively baking my grandmother’s brownie recipe to the benefit of myself – let’s not lie – and my friends and family. Cooking more generally has been my main method of self-care alongside running long bubble baths and relistening to His Dark Materials on audiobook. Throwing myself into a fantasy land gives some temporary relief to the harsh realities of British politics.

gal-dem is mobilising to kick the Tories out. Read more about why here