Welcome to The Squirrel!! This newsletter is sponsored by the Wellness Center, sent out bi-weekly to our subscribers with topics ranging from self-care, communication, study tips, and more! You can subscribe to our fabulous emails by clicking the button below. You can also click here to see previous newsletters.
This week, we are focusing on the anxieties surrounding this year's presidential election. Waiting for something as serious as who our president will be for the next four years is daunting. We'll be navigating expectations, coping, how to take breaks, seek support, and what resources you have available through St. Olaf!
This election season is very different than any other this country has seen. The increase of absentee ballots, a looming uncertainty of a peaceful transition of power, and last minute changes to voting laws have caused a chaotic election season. For these reasons, it's especially important to set realistic expectations for election night. A few to consider are:
COUNTING TIME:It’s going to take longer to count the votes and verify a winner in this year’s election — and that’s okay. We need to be patient so election officials can take the time to make sure every eligible vote is counted accurately.
PREMATURE VICTORY: Candidates may claim victory prematurely and people might propagate dangerous conspiracy theories to incite public confusion and challenge electoral outcomes.
ACTION: Prepare for, and push back against, distortions of legitimate electoral procedures and vote counts.
On election day, there will be countless things out of our control which is why it’s important to focus on things we can control the next following days. These may be as simple as cleaning your dorm to provide a clean environment for yourself to watch the election. Set a bedtime on election night to hold yourself accountable and ease the temptation to keep following the 24-hour news cycle. Find an activity that calms and soothes your soul after following the newest update in the polls. Channel your anxiety and emotions into constructive activities such as donating to organizations you value, volunteering as an advocate, or educating yourself about issues that matter to you. Lastly, maintain as much of the daily routine you’ve had for the semester as possible to provide a sense of certainty and predictability.
Coping With The Outcome
With the compounding stress of the election, the global pandemic, and ending the semester it’s easy to feel on-edge and uncertain about the future. A 2020 survey conducted by CARAVAN on behalf of The Maple Counseling Center, a nonprofit mental health organization, found that 52 percent of respondents believe their mental health has suffered due to the 2020 presidential election. So, how can we prepare for and cope with the outcome of this election?
We should start by acknowledging that this election will not have an immediate outcome. With the increased use of mail-in absentee ballots, the final count will probably arrive up to a week after the actual election day of November 3rd. Recognize that it might take even longer than a few weeks to know the results.
Reset and adjust your self-care. We aren't just referring to the typical activities of journaling, meditating, or coloring. Fueling your body with nutritious meals, physical activity, showering, and getting 8+ hours of sleep at night can make all the difference in your ability to get through the day.
Minimize your news and social media consumption. Most of us are being constantly bombarded with headlines and news about the election. Try blocking out three hours in the evening where you don’t look at your phone or other news sources. This is especially important if you find yourself getting upset from reading headlines or other updates. Identify your social media triggers, and make a concrete effort to give yourself a break from them.
Look for signs of hope! Hope can look different from person to person. It can be in our small successes or in the activism we see happening all around the world to dismantle systems of oppression. Hope is everywhere if we are willing to see it!
Instead of forcing ourselves to ignore our stress and anxieties about the results of the election, make sure you’re taking breaks. It can be difficult on a college campus, like St. Olaf, to allow ourselves to take breaks. Although we didn't have a built-in Fall break this year, we can take our own liberties in deciding when we need a day to rest or extra time on an essay.
Ask for an extension. Our professors are fully aware of the load of stress that we’re under, and most likely they’re probably feeling it, too. Here is a template that you can use and some additional resources for professors:
“Dear Professor __________,
I am writing to let you know that I’ve been struggling with the stress of the election and my mental health, and would like to ask for an extension for ______________. Thank you for your understanding.
Sincerely, The Squirrel.”
Take a day to breathe. Not all of your classes may be canceled on the day of, or immediately following the election. However, if you're having a difficult time focusing, communicate with your professor that it would be better for you to take a break from normal events to rest and practice self-care.
Check-in with your present self. It's important to stay mindful and continue checking in with yourself during difficult periods of time. Listening to your body through silence or guided meditations can allow you to learn if you need more sleep, water, or to watch a vine compilation on youtube!
Create an EMERGENCY self-care plan. If you're unable to find a self-care activity to bring you joy, use this worksheet to give you some ideas!
Elevated levels of stress hormones due to ongoing news consumption can take a toll on the body. This video discusses the ways in which consuming news impacts our mood and mental state as well as our bodies.
Self-reflection is one of the best ways that you can shift your mindset, increase positivity in your life, and discover a greater connection to yourself. Spend some time reflecting on the manners in which stress impacts your physical body and emotions.
This is an incredibly stressful time.Know that you’re not alone, and you’re definitely not the only one feeling this way. In these stressful times, we can and should make use of our social support systems by leaning into the relationships we have already made on and off-campus.
Grab a coffee with your roomie. Roommates aren't only for semester-long slumber parties. It's important to maintain a self-care oriented atmosphere, where everyone cares for each other's wellbeing. Be intentional in having conversations about how you're doing and how your space can be more beneficial to everyone's mental health.
Share a little love and call a friend or family member. Simply talking about your feelings out loud can make a big difference, especially if you haven't called your closest family member in a while.
If you need to cry, let it out. Crying is a natural, healthy response to our emotions, and the goal is to let yourself feel what you’re feeling.
Now, more than ever, we need to support one another and utilize the resources we have on-campus that are meant to validate and support our frustrations, struggles, and emotions. Here are all the resources we could think of that you might need over the next few weeks!
Boe House: Boe House is the counseling center for St. Olaf students. On November 4, Boe House will transition to same-day only appointment scheduling for all new and existing clients.
Let’s Talk is a 15-20 minute informal consultation with a counselor that is available Monday thru Friday 1:30-2:30 pm.
To schedule a Same Day Counseling Appointment or Let’s Talk session, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (507) 786-3062. If you choose to email, provide your availability for the day you request!
Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS): If you're worried about academics going into election time, then make an appointment at CAAS with either a Peer Tutor or Staff to talk about time management!
To make an appointment with CAAS staff about accommodations or support, choose someone from the staff and click on their calendar link on their website!
Taylor Center: Stop by the Taylor Center this week for their post-election events, as outlined in the image above! They will have different physical or virtual spaces for you to come to chat about the elections, ask questions, or to completely take a break by enjoying some snacks, games, and arts and crafts.
The Space is a resource for any self-identified students of color to be heard and receive support around issues of race, social justice, relationships, adulting, and any topics that are relevant to your life while trying to navigate a predominantly white institution and our uncertain time. The group is facilitated by Dr. Huy T. Lee and meets every Tuesday from 4-5 PM. You can join via Zoom.
The Lavender House creates a dedicated learning environment for LGBTQIA+ students on campus and serves as a “hub” for social programming to build a community LGBTQIA+ and allied individuals. To see upcoming Taylor Center events, click here.
Faculty & Staff
Class Deans: Usually, we think of the class deans as people we don't see unless we're in trouble. However, that's not the case! They're here to accommodate you and act as liasons between you and your professors. Set up appointments with them to check in on how you feel in your classes, or if you need any accommodations!
Campus Pastors & Chaplains: The Pastors and Chaplains are here to talk about both spiritual and non-spiritual wellness! They're a confidential resource you can utilize to chat with for just about anything.
Set up a meeting with any of them by following the steps on their website.
Advisors, Coaches, & Professors: Sometimes, it can be difficult to approach the people who are the most direct resources we have. The professors we see every other day, and the coaches we see every day!
Use your close Faculty and Staff resources to your advantage by popping into office hours, setting up a zoom with your advisor, or sending an email to prompt a conversation!
The Wellness Center
The Wellness Center is also here to support you during this time! Not only are we in the office (BC 112) from 1:00-8:00 pm Monday thru Thursday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Friday's to provide health supplies, we have options!
One-on-One Support: The Wellness Center offers virtual One-on-Ones with our very own peer educators.Our peer educators are trained in evidence-based mental, social, and emotional health strategies, motivational interviewing, responding to microaggressions, gender and sexuality, suicide prevention, and sexual violence prevention. One-on-One support is a non-confidential resource--meaning peer educators are required to report cases of violence and potential threats to individual safety.
If you want to talk out a question or concern with someone, fill out a request through our online form!
Paw Program:Join our weekly one-hour structured dog program where you can sit with, pet, and interact with dogs without leaving campus! We’ll be meeting every Wednesday with new pups each week at the Pause Main Stage.