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Managing our anxiety level as we await election results

Workers sit at tables counting ballots.
Mail-in ballots from the June 7 primary are processed on June 16 at an L.A. County facility in the City of Industry.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, Nov. 10. I’m Karen Garcia, reporter for the Utility Journalism Team. It’s the team that provides you with resources and helpful tips from experts to solve problems and navigate the challenges in your life.

So let’s navigate what’s top of mind for Californians at this moment: elections — or, more specifically, election results.

[Read: ‘The whole city is in limbo’: Anxious waiting as Bass, Caruso ballots are counted for L.A. mayor]

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You’ve done your civic duty of voting through the mail, at the drop box or in person. And now you have to wait ... and wait .... and wait some more.

You might be hitting the refresh button on The Times’ 2022 California midterm election live results page with alarming frequency while scrolling through social media for updates (and potentially premature celebratory posts from campaigns and their backers). But the reality is that it will be a while before Californians see enough results in close races to determine the winners.

The Times recently reported that the overwhelming shift to vote-by-mail ballots fundamentally changed Californians’ participation in elections, making the wait for results longer and more agonizing.

When the polls close on election day, the “semifinal official canvass of the vote” begins. According to the California secretary of state’s office, that’s the tallying of vote-by-mail ballots already received and ballots cast in each of the state’s 24,000-plus in-person voting centers.

The canvass begins at 8 on election night “and continues uninterrupted until the last precinct is counted and reported to the Secretary of State,” the agency’s website states.

Election coverage is a lot to take in, and the combination of stakes and suspense might make you feel a little anxious. That’s normal! Uncertainty stresses us out, but there are ways to manage it.

For starters, try to still your mind. In this anxious time, so many thoughts and worries may be bouncing around in your head. Try focusing on your breathing. As one doctor says, breathing slowly and deeply “can reduce that ‘fight or flight’ response that causes our bodies to go into stress overdrive.” Repeating a calming phrase to yourself can spur relaxation. Watch a meditation video!

Or try shifting your mood. I know when I start to feel anxious in front of my computer screen, I shift my mood by getting up to refill my water bottle or take a short walk outside.

Time may not be what’s nagging at you but, rather, the possible outcomes of the election. For her Group Therapy newsletter, my colleague Laura Newberry wrote a thoughtful piece on how we hold on to the hope that our votes matter. The article was sparked by a newsletter reader’s question: “When the world feels like it’s caving in, can hope and optimism for a better future dig us out?” In short, the action of hoping isn’t easy — it’s a discipline.

“We don’t know what tomorrow will bring or whether the seeds we sow — of kindness, of awareness — will bear fruit in our lifetimes, or ever,” Newberry wrote. “But we do it anyway. That’s hope in action.”

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

L.A. STORIES

A man speaks to a group of women at a party in a tent.
L.A. City Council candidate Hugo Soto-Martinez gathers with supporters at an election night party in Atwater Village.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. voters take issue with sitting City Council members. Amid corruption scandals, an ongoing homelessness crisis and a secret recording of racist remarks by city leaders, council members weren’t in favor this election. Tuesday’s preliminary election results reinforced that theme as Kenneth Mejia, certified public accountant and critic of the City Hall establishment, vanquished his opponent, Councilmember Paul Koretz, in the race for city controller. Los Angeles Times

L.A. has a plan to help victims of discrimination. The city of Los Angeles’ Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department launched a unit to investigate complaints about discrimination by employers, landlords and businesses. Residents already had the ability to file a discrimination complaint with state and federal civil rights authorities. Filing at this local level, however, avoids significant backlogs they may encounter at higher levels of government. Los Angeles Times

Want to get involved in your community but don’t know how to get started? Shape L.A. is a new tool by The Times that assists in understanding who your local elected leaders are, identifies what district in Los Angeles County you’re in, provides you with contacts for state representatives, and empowers you to understand your influence on local government in your community. Los Angeles Times

Lincoln Heights is L.A.'s oldest suburb and the original site of the largest, most influential Tongva village. L.A. Taco is creating a taco guide for every single neighborhood in Los Angeles, and within the guide it’s also sprinkling in brief histories of these communities. For example, movie buffs will love the tidbit about the boiler room scenes in “Nightmare on Elm Street” that were shot in the soon-to-be-shuttered Lincoln Heights Jail. L.A. Taco

Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Poverty fell in California during the pandemic, largely due to safety net programs. State and national programs, especially the expansion of federal child tax credits, helped families during the pandemic, but the deadline to file for those tax credits expires Nov. 17. The California Policy Lab estimates about 290,000 California children living at or near poverty could miss out on the 2021 child tax benefit. CalMatters

Election day came and went, but election deniers aren’t going anywhere. In rural Shasta County, local government entities are grappling with conspiracy theories about the validity of voting and the targeting of elections offices. During the June primary election, someone went as far as hanging a trail camera — the kind hunters use to track wildlife — in the alley behind the county registrar’s office to monitor election staff. Los Angeles Times

Early results show Robert Luna ahead; he’s ready to be sheriff. At Luna’s intimate-feeling election party, Times columnist Gustavo Arellano reflects on the sheriff’s race that’s drawn national attention, pitting Alex Villanueva against Luna. During the campaign, Luna ran on a return to decency for a department distrusted by voters. “Luna came off as normal, even boring. Isn’t boring what we need to lead the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department right now?” Los Angeles Times

Berkeley may ban cars from making right turns on red lights. “Policies like eliminating Right on Red are smart and easy ways to begin the process of deprioritizing car use in Berkeley and placing lives [above] driver convenience,” City Councilmembers Terry Taplin and Susan Wengraf wrote in the proposal. Los Angeles Times

CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING

Villanueva is being investigated for soliciting campaign donations from deputies. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has opened a criminal investigation into whether Sheriff Alex Villanueva violated state law when he solicited campaign donations via a video sent to members of the Sheriff’s Department. In a brief interview at his election night party, Villanueva told The Times that Dist. Atty. George Gascón should recuse himself from the investigation. Los Angeles Times

Ex-UFC fighter Cain Velasquez released on bail in attempted-murder case. Velasquez, who is accused of shooting at a pickup truck, was released with the condition of wearing a GPS monitor, and he’s required to go to outpatient treatment for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that can be caused by a history of concussions. Los Angeles Times

California pot businesses are being sued for allegedly not getting people high enough. Santa Monica law firm Dovel & Luner has sued four companies in two class-action lawsuits, alleging the pot sellers have been overstating how much THC is in their pre-rolled joints. SFGATE

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Closeup of a woman holding a surboard over her head.
Sachi Elias attends Surf Sister Sessions in Santa Monica.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Therapy in the water is just one new blend of talk therapy with physical activity. People across the country are doing dog walk therapy, horticulture therapy and improv therapy. These spaces that are fusing therapeutic practices with physical activity are reaching new clients who might find sitting face to face in a formal office intimidating or who want to explore how movement can challenge them to process emotions differently. Los Angeles Times

Puppets talk about mental health news for and with kids. The Times and the Bob Baker Marionette Theater are collaborating on “Head-lines,” a mental-health-focused news show, with puppet hosts, that aims to explain complicated mental health concepts to kids. The goal is to introduce children to new coping skills and help them build resilience. Los Angeles Times

National Parks says not to lick the Sonoran Desert toad. In a viral Facebook post on Halloween, the agency warned that the Sonoran Desert toad has prominent parotoid glands that secrete a potent toxin: So don’t touch, let alone lick. These amphibians thrive in Sinaloa, Mexico, and the Southwestern U.S., save for one that lives in captivity at the Oakland Zoo. San Francisco Chronicle

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Gas station owner is also a winner in the Powerball drawing. Joseph Chahayed — a Syrian immigrant who uprooted his family in 1980 to come to Los Angeles with the vision of a better life and brighter future — is the Altadena gas station owner who sold the winning $2-billion Powerball ticket. The gas station was awarded a $1-million prize for selling it. The 75-year-old plans to share the money with his family and grandchildren. Los Angeles Times

Help tell others’ stories through music as a composer. The latest installment in The Times’ guide to entertainment industry careers focuses on how to become a composer for film and TV. Spoiler alert, every pro interviewed for the story grew up studying at least one instrument — with music software, a laptop, iPad or even a phone can be an instrument. But the work to becoming a composer doesn’t end there. Los Angeles Times

Too early for Christmas gift planning? The answer is, never! Listen, if stores have begun their Christmas displays, then you can start planning out your seasonal gifts for your loved ones. The Times has rolled out its annual holiday gift guide, and it has suggestions for everyone on your list, including the supporter of locally made goods, the self-care guru, the tech enthusiast and the wave-catcher. Los Angeles Times

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: 66, mostly sunny. San Diego: 65, mostly sunny. San Francisco: 59, mostly sunny. San Jose: 59, patchy frost and fog, then mostly sunny. Fresno: 56, patchy frost, then mostly sunny. Sacramento: 57, mostly sunny.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory is from Sheenie Ambardar:

It was 1998 or 1999. I was a Stanford undergrad interviewing at UCLA for medical school. It was my first time in Los Angeles, and when I landed at LAX and saw the beautiful palm trees, the throngs of people pulsating with exciting energy, something inside me stirred: “Someday I’m going to live in Los Angeles. It might not be now or even soon, but someday I’ll live in L.A.” Fast forward a decade, and the dream was realized. I moved to L.A. for my first job as a psychiatrist in 2008, and here I happily am, 14 years later.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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