Managing Election Anxiety

2020 has undoubtedly taken us on a wild ride and there was no way to know what was coming for us. To add insult to injury, we are just one day away from Election Day and there is so much on the line. You like many other Americans may feel mounting anxiety as we wait to learn the results of a pivotal election. There is no shortage of political news and at this point in time, it can feel impossible to turn it off. Unfortunately there are implications from this sort of anxiety on mental health.


Rage and worry are rampant. Differing opinions are driving wedges in between family and friends and there will most certainly be post election residue as some celebrate and others face what they consider a devastating loss. 2020 is not only an election year, but we are also amidst an international pandemic and facing historical social justice battles. 2020 has changed the way we live, the way we work, the way we socialize and generally the way we function as society. Are you feeling resistant yet? Rightfully so. One of the most stressful parts of the 2020 experience is that there is very little within our power to change.


Even though life is a little out of sorts, 2020 has given us a unique opportunity to step into our own power and find healthy and long lasting coping strategies. This may be the moment you realize you have been consumed by your stress and your experience, give yourself permission to seek out professional help if you cannot seem to find peace on your own.


Here are a few things you can do today and moving forward to help you settle into the present moment, no matter how challenging it might be.


PRODUCTIVELY CHANNEL YOUR STRESS


Making a difference is empowering and no matter how small your efforts, your contributions matter. You can make a donation to a cause you believe in, or you could volunteer your time to an organization you support. Either way change your mind to focus on what you can do, instead of focusing on things that are out of your control.


TURN OFF THE NEWS


Take a break from news consumption. This is not the first time this has been suggested and it certainly will not be the last. When you take time to observe how news or social media makes you feel, you might learn, it is time to take a break. This could look like turning off all of your electronics for a short period of time each day. Fill your time with a mindful activity like journaling, a phone-free walk, or mindful cup of tea. This is a great time to start a hobby like painting or drawing. Maybe you just purchase an adult coloring book, or a great book to read. No matter the activity, give yourself a break from news and social media.


SET BOUNDARIES


Maybe you need conversation boundaries with friends, family or co-workers? Set them, and keep them. Conversations over differing political views can create unnecessary tension and leave important relationships in shambles. When in doubt do not talk about politics at all.


MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY


Carve out time for self-care. Schedule self-care, and be consistent. Self-care is stress management. Take a walk, write in your journal, exercise, rest when you need to, make yourself a nice meal, read a book, create quiet time, or meditate. Do something that makes you feel good and learn to recognize when you need a minute.


Depending on where you live and depending on your opinions, recognize that your experience is unique and that your feelings are valid. This is time for protecting your space, your energy and nourishing your mind, body and spirit in productive and meaningful ways. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, and know that you are not alone.


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© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.