Guest Post

Election season can be a stressful time for everyone, but it’s especially hard on those of us working in politics and political media. Campaigning, working with email data and append services, reporting, and organizing volunteers for phone banking all take a toll. During the most intense peak of these cycles, it’s important to be aware of the signs of burnout so you can avoid it.

Common symptoms 

Some commonly-reported symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, cynicism, and detachment. If you notice yourself slipping into these, it is especially important to take a step back and assess your situation. Is it possible to delegate any of your tasks? Take a moment to breathe and assess your workload so you can prioritize.

What can you do to preserve your mental health and react accordingly if you notice yourself burning out? 

  1. Make sure you’re taking breaks and disconnecting from the news and social media every once in a while. This is a challenge when your job is directly related to what is happening in the media. If you cannot fully disconnect from the constant barrage of breaking news and online discourse, at least schedule 5-10 minute breaks from your screens. Taking breaks for a few minutes every few hours to clear your head and help you regulate your emotions will make maintaining relationships easier.
  2. Schedule time with friends and loved ones, and do things that help you unwind and relax. Mental overwhelm may have you feeling like you can’t look up from your work even for a minute but taking a walk together, making a meal, or taking a moment for a hug from a member of your family or support network can help you return to your tasks more relaxed and ready to focus.
  3. Exercise and eat healthy foods to help reduce unnecessary stress levels. Much of the stress is out of your control but what you put in your body is. This can be tough because fast food and sugary snacks are easy and convenient. Don’t forget to drink water and have some nourishing foods around even if you choose to visit a drive-through to save time.
  4. Avoid getting into arguments with people who have drastically different political views than you. This one may be the hardest of them all. Remember your energy is finite. You only have so much. Try to spend your limited time and attention on the things that matter and have the potential to create material change. Arguing rarely does anything but deplete you. Productive, good-faith conversations don’t include name-calling or a rise in blood pressure.

Remember that you’re not alone and this experience is temporary. The stakes may be high but this period of urgency will end. This is easily forgotten in the thick of stress but you don’t have to suffer in isolation. Reach out to your network for support. Remember in times like these, a deep breath is always available and you will get through this. ‘Til the next election!

Photo: Claudia Wolff / Unsplash