How to soothe election stress and relax

November 03, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Elections can be stressful.

A recent poll conducted for the American Psychological Association found roughly 68 percent of survey respondents reported feeling stressed about the presidential election.

In 2016, just over half of survey respondents reported feeling stressed about the election.

The level of stress varied among different demographics. For example, those with chronic health conditions reported feeling more stressed than those without chronic health conditions (39 percent vs. 28 percent). In 2016, 49 percent of Black

Americans surveyed said they were stressed over the elections. In 2020, the number jumped to 71 percent, according to the survey.

As elections draw to a close and we learn the results, Elizabeth Hill, LCPC, Linden Oaks Supervisor of Rehab Services and licensed clinical professional counsellor, offers some advice about how to lower your stress levels as it relates to elections and the politics of the day.

  • Maintain balance in your life. It’s important to stay informed, but setting some boundaries regarding how much time you spend listening to the news or surfing social media can benefit your mental health. "Be willing to turn off the news or phone and take part in other things that bring you enjoyment," says Hill. This is just as important to remember after you cast your vote and we wait for election results, which may not come until after Election Day.

  • Recognize your own anxiety and fears. If you start to feel anxious or stressed, pay attention to those feelings. Seek out a trusted confidant for a judgment-free discussion of how you are feeling about politics or the election. Turn to a trusted friend, spouse or therapist to talk things out and let go of some of that anxiety so it doesn’t bubble over and come out in a social media debate or a discussion with a co-worker.

  • Take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep, exercising and eating right can help decrease your overall stress levels.

  • Channel that energy into something positive. If there’s a cause you are passionate about, find a way to champion it. “Find positive ways to take action that are meaningful to you,” says Hill. Even small steps can be empowering, she says.

  • Practice kindness. "Be kind with yourself and give others kindness and grace," Hill reminds us. Remember, you aren’t the only one feeling stressed about the elections and if you can, try to offer some support to those around you who also are feeling stressed.

  • Learn when to walk away. Political discussions can often get heated. It’s OK to "agree to disagree" and disengage. Sometimes that can be more difficult to do when it involves a family member. In those situations, consider setting a boundary of how far you will allow political discussions to go in advance and give yourself an out when you reach that limit.

  • Recognize your needs after Election Day. Allow time for self-care such as mindfulness activities, spending time with loved ones or enjoying a favorite hobby.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, you may need some extra support. Talk to your doctor about seeking help from a professional.

Get support from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

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