Caring for your wellbeing during the election

Our actionable tips and tricks


The weeks leading up to an election can be really exciting! Whether you’re directly involved in the election - say, as part of a political party or as an activist - or simply following news and updates, hearing, reading about and engaging in the election can help you feel part of meaningful change and boost your wellbeing as a result.

Elections can also stoke strong feelings and conflict with others, and/or discriminatory and divisive comments around ethnicity, culture and identity. You might see this conflict or discrimination on social or news media, or the conflict could be more personal and happen with a friend, whānau member, acquaintance or member of the public. Especially if your community is the target of discriminatory or racist comments or actions, hearing or seeing them can have a significant impact on your wellbeing and lead to feelings of hopelessness, overwhelm or worry. Racism and discrimination are never okay, and our identities should never be used as political footballs. If you want to take action against comments or actions you have heard or seen, see our ‘Need some extra support?’ section below.  

Regardless of how you feel about the election, the weeks leading up to election day and the period afterwards are a good time to take extra care of yourself.  

Below are some tips on how to care for your wellbeing during this time. 

In the weeks leading up to the election

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1. Limit the amount of time you spend consuming the news

We recognise this is easier said than done, especially if you are part of a political party or activism activities! 

A helpful mantra is: it’s okay to consume the news, but try not to let it consume you.   

To help with this, you could:

  • Only check the news once a day, and only on reputable, non-biased news sites, programmes or radio stations such as Te Ao Māori News or Radio New Zealand. Non-biased news outlets will stick to the facts in a neutral way, rather than backing a particular party or political angle.
  • Turn off your election-related news notifications – your Google alerts, social media notifications and subscriptions to any election-focused e-newsletters you subscribe to. 
  • Ask someone you know to check the news for you, and keep you informed about any key developments. 
  • Limit the time you spend on social media, especially on accounts that are high-conflict.
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2. Take time out

If you’re feeling triggered or overwhelmed, spending time away from election-related topics can recharge your batteries and give you some perspective.

Need to take a break from the election? You could: 

  • Connect with whānau, for example by watching a movie together or cooking dinner for one another.
  • Actively take notice of the world around you, for example by having your breakfast outside and listening to nature, or by doing a mindfulness exercise on YouTube.
  • Being active can do wonders for our wellbeing. Go for a walk in nature, practice yoga, get involved with your local sports team or do some simple stretching.
  • Treat yourself to an activity you know relaxes you – taking a bubble bath, making some art, listening to your favourite music or reading a good book.
  • Get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week (held between 18-24 September). You can participate as a workplace, school or individual – and there are lots of free wellbeing resources available. 
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3. Check-in with yourself

Feeling anxious or worried is a common reaction to elections. It’s normal to feel anxious in stressful situations beyond our immediate control. Anxious feelings are our body’s way of telling us that we are threatened and can leave us feeling upset and exhausted.    

You can manage anxious feelings or worries by:

  • Rating them on a scale between one and 10. Your worries might be insistent and make you feel as if you must act on them all right away - but do think about how urgent they really are. Try writing them down and giving each worry a number between one and 10, where one is not important and 10 is very important. This will help things feel more manageable.   
  • Box breathing. Box breathing is breathing in the shape of a box – breathing in for up to five seconds, holding your breath for up to five seconds, exhaling for up to five seconds and then holding your breath for up to five seconds again. It can help you achieve a feeling of calm in any time and place. Watch this video for a demonstration.
  • Writing your worries down. Writing about or drawing your worries can help you work through how you’re feeling and get you out of the rabbit hole of negativity. Writing down what you’re grateful for can also give you some balance and perspective.
  • Practising mindfulness or reciting karakia/prayer. Mindfulness can help you to let go of troubling thoughts and ground you in the here and now. Watch this guide to mindfulness resource or try to start and end each day with a karakia/prayer that soothes you.
  • Reaching out to a loved one for support. Sharing your worries with someone you trust can be daunting. However, it can also be a fantastic way of releasing the emotions attached to your worries, helping you to accept your feelings and come up with a plan to move forward. Reaching out to a trusted, non-biased friend or whānau member may also help if you are feeling conflicted or uncertain about voting or who to vote for. 

On election day

  • Try to get at least two things done today.  To give your brain a break, think about some everyday tasks that you can use to distract yourself (while also feeling productive). Write down five things that you’ve been avoiding lately and attempt to cross two off your list. 
  • Write yourself notes or reminders.  Got a quote you love? A positive affirmation that uplifts you? Write it down and leave it somewhere visible to help you get through the day. 
  • Set up a ‘solidarity chat group.’  A huge part of election day self-care is setting healthy boundaries with friends and whānau — especially if you have a friend group or whānau member that’s politically divided. Focus on connecting with people who will support you today, like a group of friends who you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with. Create a ‘solidarity group’ on the messaging platform of your choice. This can be your safe space to rant, share silly memes and check-in on each other. 
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After the election

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However you feel, know that it’s okay. Things might not turn out as you hoped, and you might feel sad, angry or disappointed. It’s okay to feel that way. Emotions can linger for some time post-election. Sit with those feelings. Let them come so that they can go.

To help move your mood, you can:

  • Re-connect with your ‘solidarity chat group’ or other non-politically divided friends and whānau. Simply going for a coffee or a walk, or having a video call with someone who has a friendly, listening ear can do wonders for your wellbeing.  
  • Think about ways you can strengthen your holistic wellbeing or Te Whare Tapa Whā – your mental or emotional, physical, spiritual, or whānau-related connections, and your connections with the whenua (land) or natural environment. Which of your walls is the least strong right now, and what could you do to strengthen it? 
  • Practise at least one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing a day – Give, Be Active, Take Notice, Connect or Keep Learning. Download a free resource and start today.

Need some extra support?

If you or someone you know has immediate safety concerns, please dial 111 or contact your local mental health crisis assessment team.   

There’s no shame in needing something more than a kōrero or resource. Remember, you can free-call or text 1737 any time of the day or night for confidential support. More specific helplines are available too – you can speak to someone who better represents your age, your culture or your specific situation, and you don’t always have to voice call someone to do it.  

Want to challenge racist or discriminatory comments or actions made during the lead up to the election, or beyond? Good on you.

You can:

  • challenge racism with these anti-racism resources (which also offer advice about where to report harmful content)
  • challenge discrimination against our rainbow communities, or support someone who has faced discrimination,  here

Authorised by Shaun Robinson, Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, Eden 3, Ground Floor, 16 Normanby Road, Mt Eden, Auckland 1024.