How to Get Through the Day When You’re Waiting for Big News

Waiting for news on Election Day can be excruciating. A similar agony comes with waiting for results after a medical exam, or when you send an email with bad news and fear the recipient’s reaction. Here are some tips to help you stay mentally strong while you wait.

Gather friends who support you

This is the best reason not to give up on social media (other than, of course, the fact that some of us need them to work). Your friends can help you stay calm throughout the day, and tools like Social Fixer can reduce the amount of stressful news you have to go through in order to talk to them.

One of the fun strategies is to ask your friends for pictures of cute animals or memes that will make you laugh. I know a group of people who are going through rough days sending each other the most unflattering selfies they can think of. There are two sides to this trick: the photos will make you smile, but you will also feel better knowing that your friends have taken a moment of their day to help you.

The moment the news comes out, think about who you want to be around. Invite a trusted friend or family member to see the doctor, or plan to call them immediately after the meeting where you may have bad news. On election night, consider partying with like-minded people who can celebrate or sympathize with you if needed.

Meditation is always a good answer.

While one day anxiety is not the same as chronic anxiety , many of the tools for coping with it are the same. According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness meditation can reduce the levels of stress you experience and can reduce the amount of time you spend thinking about things that cause you stress.

In the long term, the habit of meditation can help you hold back your emotional response to things that upset you. Overall, a review of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that meditation is not a magic wand, but it has many advantages and few disadvantages.

If you’re new to meditation, don’t worry – there are many easy ways to get started. For example, you can take ten deep breaths and ignore everything except your own breathing and counting. Or, you can take a minute to observe your thoughts, and indicate any emotions that come up (“Hmm, I’m overwhelmed”). Meditation apps like Headspace and Calm , available for iOS and Android, can guide you through a meditation session if you’re too anxious to decide what to do. Or, if you need help now , just click on the video above for a soothing session.

Take a quick exercise break

For some people with anxiety, regular exercise and medication can help. Even in the short term, it can be a great helper. Set a timer for one minute and do lunges or push-ups until you hear a beep ; you will most likely feel better after that.

Exercise lowers the levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol in your body, while increasing levels of endorphins , hormones that help you relax and even feel more optimistic. If you have time for a full workout, consider a jog or walk in the fresh air in fine weather.

The running rhythm will help you process your thoughts in a manner similar to meditation. If you prefer to get away from your thoughts, try fast-paced interval training or a challenging weight -lifting workout that puts your brain to work.

Besides the physical changes to exercise, another reason it relieves stress is because it is something you can do right now . Whether you perform the exercises and which movements you choose are completely under your control.

Do What You Can Control

When you’re waiting for news of something you can’t control, consider doing other things that will bring you small victories. Makeup is a simple yet effective way to do this: visit a beauty salon or just pull out your favorite bottle of nail polish. Crafts also beautiful: knit hat, draw a picture, erecting a birdhouse or discard of electronics design with their own hands, to which you’ve always wanted to get. You will be distracted from worries and in the end you will have something to show.

After all, you feel so awful in part because you seem powerless to make yourself feel better. But one big thing you worry about is not the only game in town. Small gains can lift your spirits and give you a great outlet for all your nervous energy. Even cleaning the house works here: you can immediately see the result of your actions, and by the time you are done, you will have done a little workout and made your home a more pleasant place to live.

Volunteer and shift your focus to helping others

If there is volunteer work you can do to help with your problem, so much the better. On election day, this could mean polling by district or calling for a vote. If you want to help a campaign but can’t save time, consider ordering snacks from your local campaign office.

But even in situations that are completely out of your control, consider becoming a volunteer just to take your mind off yourself and transfer it to others. Most organizations require some form of training before starting beneficial volunteering, but this is not always a barrier. Go back to the shelter where you used to walk the dogs, or search your spam mail for coupons and buy toys to donate to Toys for Tots .

Remember to take care of yourself

On a busy day, it’s easy to forget about things like a healthy meal or getting enough sleep. Make sure to take these steps and don’t let your anxiety get in the way of rewarding things on your calendar, such as a gym, an important work assignment, or an evening with friends.

Remember, there is a difference between positive and negative coping skills. Drunkenness is not a healthy way to cope; nor overeating to the point where you regret it, or pouring out anger on others. It’s also a bad idea to make big decisions when you’re upset: write a checklist for your plan to move to Canada, but don’t buy tickets yet.

So, stick with the positive tactics we’ve covered here or other things that will actually make you feel better. Comedian Alyssa Trushkowski told me that she takes five to ten minutes to allow herself to be nervous before the show, and then after that worry leaves no more room in the brain. Worry is okay, but it shouldn’t take over your life.

Illustration by Angelica Alzona .

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