election-2016Every election season evokes emotion, charged rhetoric and drama, but this election season feels particularly painful. The jabs, accusations and downright cruelty are taking a toll on our emotional and mental wellbeing. As the primary election season wrapped up earlier this year, I tuned into my reactions to the outcome. As I felt my own disappointment, anger and frustration, I knew the only way I’m going to come out the other side without going crazy (or at least losing a lot of my life force energy) was to practice what I preach about staying present.

The divisiveness of this election is evoking a fight or flight response in just about everyone. I notice for others, and myself we are running the gamut of responses from rage, anger, and denial to being resigned, resentful, and even depressed. The challenge we face in this election season is how to stay both informed, while not getting sucked into what feels like inevitable emotional and mental turmoil.

You have a choice about how you respond to this election season. But, in order to exercise that choice, you need to be aware and present to your experience. Now, more than ever, is the time for you to be acutely aware of what media you are consuming, your reactions and what actions you are taking. Being present in the midst of so much intense energy isn’t always easy, so here are a few tips to help you stay present (and sane) during this election season:

Be Clear on Your Intention: Before you watch a debate, engage in a conversation or read yet another article about the election, take a moment and connect with your intention. Is it to really learn about the candidates’ positions or to truly be curious about your Aunt Martha’s views? More often than not, we find ourselves absorbing information or engaging in discussions that move us away from our intent. Creating a moment to reconnect with your deeper intent may help you and the people you care about avoid unnecessary election season drama.

Get Creative With Your Consumption: A client told me that after watching ten minutes of the first presidential debate she literally felt sick to her stomach. Being present in the moment helped her connect to her body sensations and they informed her that the way she was consuming the debate information was not healthy for her. Of course, she was still curious about how the election was unfolding, so she got creative and found a website that transcribed the debate while simultaneously offering, “fact checking” throughout the debate. By eliminating the visual and audio aspects of the debate she was able to stay more objective and informed…all without making herself sick.

Know Your Limit: When reading about the candidates or watching election coverage, find creative ways to take breaks and become present to how you are feeling. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” or “Am I truly inspired to watch (or read) more?” or “Is this the most refueling thing I can do with my time right now?” I suspect when you tune into the present moment and your wisdom within, you will know when you’ve had enough.

Use Your Power for Good: In America we have amazing freedoms to speak, think, and act in ways that align with our personal values. But how often do we speak or act without clarity or consciousness? Unfortunately, we’re seeing the candidates, first hand, feeling the ramifications of quickly reacting without being mindful of what they say or do. Before you speak, post or rant about the election, take a deep breath, return to your intent and check in with wiser self. Will what you have to say be additive, authentic and necessary? If so, then great! Use your power for good. But if not, take another few moments to explore what it is you really want to share.

As painful as this election process can be at times, I still have a deep gratitude that we have a right to choose. No matter your political views, may we all exercise our right to vote this election season from a place of awareness and presence.