- Nicole Ekiss, LCSW
Managing Election Stress
Election day is here and for many, that means stress and anxiety are at all time highs. While you can't control the outcome of the election, there are things that are within your control that will help you maintain perspective, mitigate the impacts of anxiety, and support your mental health as you navigate your way through this day.
1. Set Boundaries
Everyone is talking about the election. It's being covered on every news channel and social media is overrun with election related posts and memes. Everyone has an opinion on what the outcome should be and those opinions may or may not align with your opinion and/or values. Don't allow yourself to be inundated with election coverage to the point that you feel overwhelmed. It's okay to take a break from the news. It's okay to take breaks from social media today. It's okay to set boundaries with others about what you are comfortable discussing and when you need a break. Managing how much time you are focusing on the election is important for your mental health and will help you maintain perspective.
2. See the Human Not the Party
When strong feelings and opinions arise regarding politics and the election, it can be helpful to look past political parties and see the person as a whole. Maybe their politics don't align with your value set, maybe you are struggling to understand why they support a particular candidate or take a particular stance on a certain issue. Force yourself to broaden your view and think about their positive qualities. Find commonalities. Maybe you don't align on politics, but what do you have in common with the person? This can be challenging at times, but will help you maintain perspective.
3. Keep the End in Mind
Regardless of how you feel the election should go, there is an end in sight. If your candidate doesn't win today, the outcome will last four years, not forever. It can be easy to get overwhelmed in analyzing the meaning of election outcomes, but grounding yourself by reminding yourself you can get through four years is essential for your mental health.
Have dinner with a friend. Call someone you trust to help you keep perspective. Reach out to colleagues that can help you stay grounded and offer you valuable feedback. Staying connected with others can help remind you that you are not alone in how you are feeling and provide you with a much needed distraction.
5. Choose a Coping Strategy
Give yourself permission to feel. Identify what feelings maybe coming up for you and find strategies to cope with them. This looks different for different people and is all about finding what works for YOU. Try out some meditation scripts or breathing exercises. Get a manicure or a massage. Try out floating or go for a nature walk. Exercise, journal, or delve into your favorite hobby. Try things until you find something that works for you and helps alleviate some of the intense emotions you are feeling.