November 05, 2020

Surviving Election 2020 with your work life intact: Tips from our Pros

Two days ago, Americans gathered at the polls to vote in the most contentious, highly anticipated election many of us have seen in our lifetimes. It’s projected that voter turnout for the 2020 election was the highest it’s been in the past 120 years.

With the deep emotional investment many feel in this election — and the drawn-out process of declaring a winner — it’s understandable that people across the country are feeling stressed and distracted. What does this mean in the workplace? Election stress affects mood, productivity, and more. What’s more, protracted stressful situations can lead to burnout and other health issues. Learning to navigate election season as an employee ensures that both you and your employer remain happy and healthy in November and beyond.

Feeling election stress? Talk with a Bravely coach.

Is stress management an employee’s responsibility?

Election stress is mostly outside of your control, so focus on what you can control instead. Understanding and communicating your own needs is essential. Without thoughtful self-awareness, you’ll be unable to support yourself, much less expect proper support from others. After all, even the best manager is not a mind reader. 

A few simple tips can help you take stock of your situation and create strategies to manage and communicate stress:

  • Check for signs of burnout
  • Set boundaries
  • Reconnect to mission and purpose

Check for signs of burnout

It’s easy to say you’ll check in with yourself throughout election season but much harder to do so honestly. We all experience pressure to be strong and resilient. How do you know where healthy resilience ends and unhealthy stress suppression begins? 

Rather than asking yourself general questions, such as, “How am I feeling? How am I dealing with the current situation?” make a checklist of specific red flags to keep in mind. At regular intervals, consider your list and take the appropriate action if you start seeing those red flags arise.

Many of the items on your list will be symptoms of burnout, which is a higher risk when stressors are occurring both at work and outside of work. Psychology Today lists the following burnout symptoms:

  1. Physical and emotional exhaustion
  2. Cynicism and detachment
  3. Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

In addition to those symptoms, ask yourself about your productivity. How does it compare to normal weeks? If it’s significantly lower, are your blockers external, or are they related to burnout? If you find yourself identifying with any of these symptoms, and especially if they’re affecting your health or productivity, it’s time to take action.

Set boundaries

Even if you’re not experiencing burnout, it’s important to protect yourself by setting appropriate boundaries. If you’re already finding yourself feeling burnt out, boundaries are doubly important.

Healthy boundaries help you keep your workload manageable during a stressful time and make expectations explicit for you and your boss. This prevents you from winding up in a situation where you appear to be underperforming. Such situations can extend beyond the confines of election season and damage your reputation in the long term. 

Start by committing to a workload that leaves room for lowered productivity, if you experience that. Communicate these commitments to your boss, along with the reason for this exercise. If you need help, or if you need to delegate tasks, don’t be afraid to ask. Finally, prepare for some pushback on your plan. Negotiating your workload doesn’t have to mean overcommitting. As long as you wind up with a manageable plan that meets your boss’s priorities, you’ll both walk away happy.

Reconnect to mission and purpose

Recognizing burnout and setting boundaries will help you avoid negative repercussions when it comes to your health and workplace performance. At the same time, election season is the perfect time to reaffirm the aspects of your job that provide energy and positivity. 

What moments have made you proud and excited to be at your current company, in your current role? How can you align your projects with the goal of re-capturing that feeling? Doing so will not only help avoid burnout on the job but can enhance your overall mental well-being, a vital benefit during a stressful period.

Each day, before beginning your work, take stock of your tasks, carefully re-aligning them to create a feeling of mission and purpose.

How can Bravely coaching help?

Every day, Bravely coaches support employees through stressful situations. They help develop game plans and understand personal motivation on a deeper level. Even for employees who don’t know where to begin with stress management, Bravely coaches know how to get to the root causes. They work with employees on external events, such as election season, as well as internal stressors, like upcoming performance reviews.

To book your free session with a Bravely coach and learn stress management techniques for election season and beyond, click here.

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