How to Cope with Election-Related Stress
Feeling stressed about the upcoming election? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), 68% of adults say the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress in their lives.
A report based on surveys by the nonpartisan organization More in Common says about 7 in 10 Americans worry that widespread violence may break out across the country after the results are announced.
This year, election stress is compounded by the impact of COVID-19 as well as economic pressures and a spotlight on racial inequality. “Our world is experiencing a lot of change right now and that in itself can play into feeling stressed and anxious,” says Chad Lennon, MD, a psychiatrist at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “Stress can lead to physical ailments and serious mental health issues if not addressed.”
Dr. Lennon says a barrage of comments, videos, images and stories on the news and social media in these weeks before the election can heighten concern and frustration. The tone and intensity of these political discussions play a big role in election-related stress and can lead individuals to feel a range of emotions.
Tips to Help Manage Stress Related to the Election
If you’re stressing about the election, Dr. Lennon suggests you:
- Take a break from social media or do not engage in election-related discussions online
- Read just enough from a trusted source to stay informed
- Limit watching or listening to the news
- Spend politics-free time with friends and family
- Develop coping skills such as deep breathing, mediation, and listening to music can help you decrease stress
You and your loved ones may be split on candidates or political policies, making at-home social distancing or upcoming holidays more challenging. Dr. Lennon recommends not getting too caught up in what other’s think. He also notes: “It is important to know when to say ‘no’ to talking to someone regarding political topics in order to manage your mental stability.”
Build Resilience in the Face of Stress
Whenever uncertainty is looming, Dr. Lennon suggests building resilience and stay mentally well by:
- Focusing on things that are under your control
- Challenging your need for certainty
- Learning to tolerate, even embrace, the inevitable uncertainty of life
- Reducing your anxiety and stress levels by doing activities you enjoy such as being with friends and family via Zoom or in person at a safe distance, reading, or journaling
Still feeling overwhelmingly stressed out and can’t manage? Dr. Lennon advises talking with a mental health professional, who can provide techniques to help you improve your overall wellbeing.
If you or a loved one is experiencing extreme signs of stress such as neglecting everyday life, not taking the time for favorite activities, or obsessing over social media or the news, the behavioral health team at Shady Grove Medical Center can help. Please call 800-204-8600 to schedule a consultation. Help from our mental health team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.