Coping with Election Stress
When feelings of anxiety occur due to major national, regional, or community events like elections, it can exacerbate other anxieties people may be having that are not necessarily related to that event. Past memories of anxiety may also be triggered by such events, adding to current stress.
Here are a few tips to help manage anxiety and stress you may be feeling related to the upcoming U.S. elections or similar community events.
- Stick to routines.
- Even if you don’t feel like going to work, studying, or exercising like you usually do, stick to your usual routine as much as possible. Routines ground us in the here and now, and remind us of things within our control that do not have to change.
- Seek social supports.
- Talk about your thoughts and feelings with others. Enjoy time to share experiences that can help you cope with your feelings, or distract you from them temporarily so you can take an “emotional breather.”
- Consider limiting or balancing exposure to election-related media.
- Be aware of how media habits may be affecting your sleep or mood. For some people, staying on top of news and updates is a way to manage their stress levels. But if you’re staying up too late, neglecting school, work, or other tasks at home, or find yourself more irritable or anxious than usual, consider taking extended breaks from election-related media or reducing your intake.
- Notice bodily sensations and find healthy ways to respond.
- Fears and stress associated with election outcomes may cause a temporary overreaction in the body, known as the “stress response”. This may include an accelerated heart-rate or restricted breathing pattern. Doing activities such as deep abdominal breathing, meditation, yoga, and tai-chi may help to alleviate stress and promote relaxation. Simply stretching and walking can also help move stress hormones out of the body and help you feel better, especially when done in nature. Getting sufficient sleep can decrease stress levels significantly as well.
- Know how you do not want to cope.
- Think ahead about possible negative reactions. When you’re upset, overly stressed or overwhelmed, do you tend to get into arguments, drink too much alcohol, call out sick from work/volunteering, harm yourself or others, or over/under eat? These are just a few examples of things you may end up regretting. Practice being mindful around avoiding things which could lead to spiraling negative behaviors and emotions.
- Take compassionate, caring actions to support others.
- Be the one to help a friend in crisis or a stranger in need, or volunteer to assist others in a cause that you care about. This can help ease feelings of isolation by connecting you with people in your community, and can help channel anxiety or frustration into action.
- Balance involvement with regular routines.
- On the other-hand, during elections some people over-commit. Be aware of the importance of balancing any election-related activities with your regular routines at home or work or with commitments to family, friends and yourself! Try not to end up with additional stress from neglecting any one area of your life.
- Try to keep things in perspective.
- It’s common to experience strong feelings of distress related to elections. To help you cope, validate whatever emotions you’re experiencing, while also working to reframe intrusive thoughts like hopelessness or despair. If you are feeling discouraged by current events, remind yourself that situations may shift in the future.
- Avoid minimizing or judging other people’s stress reactions.
- Avoid minimizing or judging other people’s reactions, especially if those reactions are different than yours. Give people space to cope in the ways that best suit them.
- Call the Lifeline if you are in distress or would like to speak to someone.
- It’s available 24/7, and is free and confidential. You can call us at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Vibrant Emotional Health’s Safe Space provides interactive coping tools to help users when they need it.
The American Psychological Association’s blog on tips to help people manage their stress related to the election.
A brief tutorial on how to work with the breath to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
A 5 minute guided meditation with instructions which helps build empathy and compassion for others who share your views or those who don’t.
Dr. April Naturale, Assistant Vice President of National Programs at Vibrant, shares different wellness affirmations in this short video.
Vibrant’s “Supporting Your Emotional Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Outbreak” page provides tips and resources for coping with the COVID-19 outbreak.
A study about volunteering and its health benefits in adults.
Vibrant’s “Coping During Community Unrest” page has tips and resources for coping during community unrest.