How to Handle Election Stress

5 Nov by HPA/LiveWell Clinical Psychology

Ahead of the most divisive election results in history, everyone is on the edge of their seats, anxious about the future of their country, and wondering how to handle election stress. A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that nearly 70% of their sample are finding the election to be a significant source of stress, and a further 77% are concerned about the future of the nation. Further compounding the stress and uncertainty surrounding the election is the fact that many people are attempting to cope in isolation due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This could potentially result in people spiraling into a negative mental state more than usual.

If you’re struggling with feelings of anxiety and stress around the election, then we at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, NY can help.

Voter Fatigue

The 2020 election has been historically divisive, but regardless of political affiliation, most voters are eager to get past the results and move forward with their lives. Voter fatigue occurs when voters begin to feel disengaged and apathetic around an election, oftentimes due to constant media coverage. The entire process ends up becoming disruptive and an annoyance. Many people experience voter fatigue when they lack trust in the candidates, lack confidence in how the system is being run, or feel that their vote will not matter. In times like these, it is essential to know how to handle election stress and remember the importance of your vote, even if you’re feeling disillusioned.

Election Anxiety

Constant media coverage, social media quarrels, opposing political stances in the home, and concerns about the result of the election can make people feel more anxious than normal. Election Stress Disorder is a real thing, and it affects people of both political affiliations equally. Like other forms of stress and anxiety, election stress can have a serious impact on our physical and mental health, as well as our relationships, as it can cause us to become irritable, argumentative, or withdrawn. Whereas it is important to remain engaged in the process of the election, it is equally as vital to manage election anxiety and protect your mental health. The following techniques may be helpful if you are wondering how to handle election stress:

  • Focus on the things that you can control. Cast your vote, and then remember that you have no control over who wins the election – ruminating on negative scenarios will only increase your stress.
  • Take a break from the news and social media.
  • Engage in meaningful activities – this will help you to focus on something other than news coverage of the election.
  • Meditation helps us to replace the “stress response” with the “relaxation response” and, therefore, helping us to effectively manage the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Spend time with friends and family.
  • Visualization – picturing things such as open spaces and light helps us to create a space within the mind and body for negative thoughts to move and change into positive ones.

How to Deal with Feelings of Loss and Disappointment

Regardless of who wins the election, there will be millions of disappointed voters. Research has shown that voter happiness levels can be seriously impacted after their preferred political party loses in an election, and this reduction in life-satisfaction lasts longer than the winner’s short-lived rise in happiness. If the results of the election didn’t go as you had hoped, the following steps might help you to manage your disappointment:

  • Channel your disappointment into something productive, such as a volunteering role or making a donation to charity.
  • Limit your exposure to news and social media. These platforms can exacerbate your disappointment and prohibit you from emotionally removing yourself from the election.
  • Establish boundaries with family and friends. Oftentimes, political debates can become heated, so it may be best not to discuss the results during social occasions.
  • Remember to take care of yourself – establish a healthy routine such as taking daily walks and consuming a healthy diet. Meditation and mindfulness can also help control feelings of loss and disappointment.

To find out more about how to handle election stress, how to care for your mental health in the aftermath of the election, or to learn about the mental health services provided at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, NY, contact us at 518-218-1188.