4 Ways To Handle Election Stress
I know you’re stressed out right now. We all are.
I’m already stressed about the outcome of the presidential election, and it hasn’t even happened yet.
This is an article about politics, but it’s not political. It’s about you. I care about you and I want you to have an excellent, stress free rest of your year.
We are dealing with two simultaneous and catastrophic issues in this country: COVID-19 and the Presidential Election.
These issues have been compounding upon one another for several months, in the background, slowly brewing and becoming more intense in nature. Most people are near or have already reached a breaking point.
I know several people who have had mental breakdowns as a result of what can only be summed up to “stress” related to the events of 2020.
If you can acknowledge what’s going on, it gives you the ability to fight it ahead of time. By putting in place a few simple rules, you will be able to get through this year undamaged.
One of them will be over soon in early November, but depending on the outcome, will bring stress to approximately 50% of the country either way. If the candidate that you voted for doesn’t end up in office for the next 4 years, there are actions that you can take to come to terms with it.
Remember: The goal of the media is to make everyone’s problem, your problem. Big media isn’t concerned about your mental health, instead, they need your eyeballs and attention to drive ad revenue.
Here are a few things that ARE in your control. If you act on them, you’ll feel better.
I’m encouraging you to vote, but not for the common reasons you’ll hear about.
Yes, it’s your civic duty and it is a privilege to be able to participate in a democracy. That’s what makes our country beautiful. But I am not here to guilt or judge you.
By voting, you’ll be doing what you can to make a change. You will be playing an active role in the world you live in. This active decision to change your community and country will directly give you power. You will realize that your decisions and your actions matter.
By casting your ballot, you’ll decrease your stress — regardless of the outcome. Even if you live in a historically red or blue state, don’t write off voting. This isn’t about the numbers, it’s about making decisions to improve your life and your mental state.
This action alone will give you some accountability.
Even if your candidate doesn’t win, you’ll simply feel better by having voted.
Delete Your News Apps
Note: If you refuse to do this or it seems like too much, take 60 seconds and at least remove any push notifications from these apps.
It’s well documented that constant push notifications on your cell phone is causing anxiety.
They’re stressing you out, and you may not even realize it.
Your phone can be your friend or your enemy (if you let it).
In an attempt to be the “well rounded” individual that I saw myself as, I downloaded all of the news apps and let the push notifications run rampant. I was getting probably 20 per day, and I was reading each one of them. I was filling my mind up with what the media wanted to show me. 95% of this was just click-bait and not newsworthy. I still have not found an unbiased news source that will simply communicate the information without putting a spin on it. I’m not taking sides here (the left and right are both equally guilty of it.)
You don’t need to know every time Joe Biden or Donald Trump eats ice cream — this is not news.
By deleting all of your news apps, that your phone will quiet down a bit and so will your mind.
You will taking an active role to decrease your anxiety. Try it out even as a trial for a couple of days — I guarantee you’ll be happy with the results.
Skip The Election Night Events or Viewing Party
This is going to be the most difficult one to actually put into action for most people.
I can remember being at a bar in Boston, MA during the 2016 Presidential Election. As the night went on and the drinks kept pouring, the noise level in the bar continued to rise as the outcome wasn’t what people had been hoping for.
At one point, the bartenders had to turn on Closed Captioning (text on the screen) because the TV Audio was being drowned out by the patrons of the bar who were screaming as the votes poured in.
I left once I hit my breaking point, I’ll have no idea what transpired after I left that night. But what I do know is I was massively stressed out throughout the entire experience.
Similarly, friends who chose to watch the election night news at home or with a smaller group of friends felt the same levels of stress.
Election night obviously appears to be a moment of high stress and no amount of yelling at the TV (or at others) is going to change the outcome. I am reminder of the Serenity Prayer during times like this.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why not just skip the entire thing and follow up the next day with the outcome of the election? At this point, you will have already casted your ballot and done your duty.
Personally, when the entire country is watching the election night and the news channels are showing which county in which state won which vote, etc. I won’t be around to hear it. I’ve already decided to take a couple of days off around that time and completely unplug, journal and hike in the woods. While millions of American’s are watching in anxiety and horror, I’ll be reading one of my favorite books or will be on a hike with my dog, far away from any TV.
Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, I will be working on improving myself and my life, the things I am in complete control of.
Talk About It
I’m not recommending you go on Facebook and write a massive monologue about why you hate either candidate. This may feel good in the moment but it will have a net-negative impact in the long run.
I’d recommend you don’t even comment on things you don’t agree with. Have you ever convinced anyone of anything online?
Think about it. Have you ever gone into a debate with someone and actually changed their views? It’s highly unlikely.
Fighting people online will spike your adrenaline and then if you’re being honest with yourself, regardless of who posts last, you’ll just be running hypothetical scenarios in your head of “what if I said this instead? I would have really shown them.” This isn’t good for you and it’s honestly just best to avoid the whole thing.
When you post online, you’re not talking to anyone, you’re talking to everyone. But in this ambiguous, indirect manner where you’re really just bottom fishing. You’ll only get people to respond who are either massively for or against what you’re saying.
Instead, by simply talking directly to someone about the things you’re worried about, like the election, whether it be to a therapist or a close family member of friend, you will begin to heal and will feel better.
An alternative to talking to a person would be journaling. The whole idea here is to get things out of your head.
You are not helpless. Tell yourself this out loud right now.
While the outcome of the presidential election doesn’t fall entirely into your hands, you do have control over how you handle the outcome, which is really what matters.
With so much anxiety and uncertainty in these times, it’s easy to get caught up in it all and miss out on the big picture. The big picture for me is improving myself, while also improving the lives of those around me and acting on those events that are in my control.
Please take care of yourself.
Your future self will thank you.