Dealing with Election related Interruptions and Anxiety

Every time general elections come near Kenya’s business world goes into some kind of hiatus, which is caused by previous bad experiences. Businesses put any investment and even investment decisions on hold, projects are put on hold or the start is delayed, foreign investment is delayed and some companies actually stop shipping to Kenya until elections are complete and peace prevails. Employment decisions are delayed and contracts are not signed either. At the same time individuals are reminded of their experiences during dark parts of Kenyan election related history. It can be quite traumatic.

You can see that elections in Kenya have far reaching impact, even if nothing happens. Right now, a few days to the D Day rumors are flying around, embassies send out warnings to their citizens and people go into panic buying mode. Some even leave the country temporarily so as not to get caught in any potential violence.

No, I am not saying there is any need to panic or be in fear.

Right now it is actually amazingly quiet and peaceful.

Disturbing Facts

However the facts I mentioned above, do hamper business and stall progress in your contracts, projects, programs etc. It can also take its toll on mental health and ability to perform in individuals. Hence, during these times we need to be lenient, supportive and plan for the worst while praying for the best.

What to do?

Here are some common sense tips:

  1. Don’t panic! Nothing has happened and nothing may happen.
  2. Take a deep breath, analyze the situation and plan. Let’s remain level headed.
  3. Keep your ears on the ground and adjust your plans accordingly.
  4. Do stock up on groceries, especially those that do not perish quickly, but avoid panic buying. Nothing has happened yet and maybe nothing will.
  5. Fuel your car, if anything happens, then fuel may run out in the petrol stations quite quickly. My approach during election period is that I always refuel when fuel reaches half tank.
  6. Make emergency plans at your place of work. Create a phone daisy chain – so that everyone knows who will call them with updates and who they need to call. This is the fastest way to get information out. Have a list accessible to all with emergency contacts for every team member. I mean every team member, the cleaner and the askari are part of the wider team. One of my clients also has further plans, since they have to have their internet services up and running. So those who work in 24hr shifts, rearrange their duties, they go temporarily on 12hr shifts, to minimize movement of staff. There is even an arrangement with the hotel next door, so that these staff members can sleep there if need be. In addition to that there is a plan B, where mattresses and food are stored in the office building, for a worst case scenario.
  7. Continue work as normal, until anything untoward happens, or there is need for concern. At the same time keep your eyes and ears open and discuss and assess any unusual occurrences.

You see it is not that difficult

The Waiting Game

Election Day and the subsequent wait for results can be nerve wrecking. Again make sensible plans. You do not need to be glued to the TV, Nothing much will happen during the Voting Day.

I usually keep myself busy with normal things. I go to the forest, play a round of golf, if the course is open or spend time with friends visiting. We avoid talking about the elections and just enjoy the extra day off. Those who go to vote, go at their chosen time and live continues.

Even when first results come out, you do not need to stay glued to the TV or Social Media updates. This will only make you more anxious. Just continue with normal life and watch news occasionally. Actually stay away from Social Media, since there will be rumors’ flying around, opinions being voiced as if they are facts etc.

Then the next day continue to go to work, if it is save for you to get their. Discuss any concerns with the relevant person at your office. Be alert and move with caution.

You will pretty soon know if there is any reason for real concern.

Meanwhile if you feel your are getting anxious you can do any of the following:

  • Switch of the TV and the internet
  • Change the topic
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Go for a walk in a forest (if save to do so)
No need for Panic

You see it is that easy. Be alert, take precautions, prepare and then continue normal life. Don’t allow an election to disrupt your normal life too much. There is no need for panic.

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