You may be experiencing symptoms of Election Stress Disorder.
The 2020 election season would have been a stressful one even during normal times but, compounded with a pandemic it is creating, for some, incredible stress and frustration. If you find yourself experiencing what has been described as Election Stress Disorder you are not alone; according to a study recently conducted by the American Psychological Association, 68% of Americans are feeling significantly stressed by this presidential election. For some, tomorrow and the weeks ahead will be highly emotional, so it is essential to consider how to manage your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Below are a few suggestions that could provide you with a balance:
Try to keep things in perspective.
It’s common to experience strong feelings of distress related to elections. To help you cope, validate whatever emotions you’re experiencing, while working to reframe intrusive thoughts like hopelessness or despair. If you are feeling discouraged by current events, remind yourself that situations may shift in the future.
Set boundaries with family and friends.
Having boundaries means offering one another the space to celebrate, mourn, and process feelings as needed. Avoid minimizing or judging other people’s reactions, especially if those reactions are different than yours. Give people space to cope in the ways that best suit them.
Try not to dwell.
Instead of dwelling on fears by letting your mind run wild, ask yourself if there are any action steps you can take to improve the situation and/or your mental health. Anxiety functions to make us feel powerless; doing something – anything – can help empower and bring us back into healthy coping.
Self-monitor your emotions.
Prepare for delayed results; it may take days or weeks, self-monitor and respond appropriately to your emotions. If the outcome is not what you were hoping for, find peaceful and adaptive ways to advocate for what you believe in.
Limit your news consumption.
Make opportunities to disconnect from the media, particularly if you find yourself becoming distraught, anxious, or emotionally reactive. The news is sure to be more exhausting in the coming weeks, which is why a plan for consumption can be beneficial.
Tomorrow, Election Day.
On the day of the election, start off with a moment of gratitude and self-care; this may look like journaling, a short meditation or being in nature.
Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC (Director of Clinical Services)