4 weeks to Polling Day: Taking care of yourself during campaign season

There are just 4 weeks to go in this year’s local election campaign.

By now you should have submitted your nomination papers and your campaign is likely to be in full swing. Postal votes will land in the next fortnight. It’s an intense period for your campaign. But even at your busiest you should not neglect to look after yourself.

There may well be one thing on my mind right now…winning in May! But the purpose of this article is to give you permission to take care of yourself. Yes, winning is important but not at the expense of your well-being. 

I’ve found over my years of fighting elections that I don’t like be told what I should and shouldn’t be doing (maybe it’s the Lib Dem in me!) but in every campaign you should be asking yourself three questions each week through to polling day. This way you can make sure that you ‘check in’ on your wellbeing. 

1. What am I eating?

It may sound obvious but what we eat has a direct impact on how we feel. I am the first person to reach for the chocolate bar or grab a take out because it’s easy and I’m tired from campaigning. The odd treat is fine, but if I keep turning to junk food I end up even more tired and sluggish.  

So, before we get into the busiest part of the campaign, could you buy in some healthy snacks to grab-and-go or could you double up some of your meals and save portions for later and save yourself from another take away? Perhaps take some time to plan your meals for the week ahead and help you fuel your campaigning.

2. Am I sleeping?

Again, sounds obvious but when we’re trying to fit so much into our days the seemingly logical solution is to reduce sleep. But we can’t cut sleep day after day without impairing our ability to do the very thing we want to do more of – campaigning!  

If it will help come those last few weeks, put sleep in your diary and also winddown time prior – listen to music, read a book, whatever it is that will help you get to sleep and enjoy the best quality sleep you can for this period. 

3. Have I taken this week to re-energise?

Campaigning flat out without a break is not healthy or sustainable. We all need time to stop and reenergise. I’m not suggesting we take a long weekend off mid-campaign (agents and campaign managers reading this can breathe again!) but rather that we put time in our diaries each week, even just a few hours, when we do something just for us.

What energises us will look different for each us but it’s important to take that time or we risk ‘falling over’. A yoga class, a walk, a gym session, drinks with friends, a meal out. Whatever it is, book your weekly slot in now and treat it as a non-negotiable appointment.  

My bonus question to end is ‘have I checked in with my colleagues?’ After all, we are a team and it’s good to look out for our colleagues and remind each other that it’s ok to take a break and look after ourselves. 

I hope these questions will help you look after yourself better this campaign season and remember, winning is important but you also want to ready, healthy and able to do your councillor role when you win! So, take care of yourselves and others in your teams and good luck. 

Gwyneth Deakins says

What an excellent article. I wish someone had told me this 40 years ago!! But really it needs to be said at any time. The same applies when you get elected of course . . .

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