How to Deal with Election Stress

You’d have to live under a rock not to notice that tensions are running high with the presidential election coming up. (In 39 days, if you’re counting).

No matter which way you lean, it can be overwhelming when there is so much drama surrounding the candidates and so much turmoil when it comes to social justice issues across the nation.

I’m a highly sensitive person, and when I’m inundated with negative political ads and negative news stories, I get stressed out.

As much as I’d like to bury my head in the sand and ignore the political climate, I can’t. I feel people who can “ignore the news” for any length of time are privileged in doing so. And there’s too much going on in this country that cannot and should not be ignored

I’m not the only one who’s stressed about the election. More than 60 percent of Republicans and nearly 80 percent of Democrats report being stressed out about the current political climate, according to the Stress in America 2020 report from the American Psychological Association (APA). The report is from July, so numbers could be a lot higher since so much has happened.

With the coronavirus wreaking so much havoc on our lives and the fact that it somehow became political, every single American has skin in the game, so keeping up with the news is crucial. But how do you do so when both parties are causing more polarization than there’s ever been (at least in my lifetime)?

Even if you don’t suffer from depression now, chronic stress can increase your risk of developing depression. I’ve been suffering with depression for years, so I know if I stress too much I can fall into a depressive episode. It’s easy to do, so I have to stay present and set boundaries for myself.

Here are some of the ways I cope:

1. Set limits on how long you watch the news/read the news – I don’t ignore what’s going on around me, but I do set what I think is a healthy goal in how much negative content I consume. I’d recommend reading the news and not watching. Sometimes news shows can be dramatic and anxiety inducing.

2. Don’t be goaded or provoked into an argument – This is a hard one because everybody’s passionate and has an opinion about what’s going on, but don’t be tricked into arguing with someone on the other side, especially if they’re internet strangers. I totally support political discourse but both sides must be willing to stay calm during discussions. Set boundaries for yourself and observe others’ boundaries if you are going to discuss politics.

3. Limit time on social media – Right now I get slammed with political articles on Facebook or people sharing their opinion about different issues. I used to get on social media to relax and share my life with friends, but it’s no longer that relaxing.

4. Make self care a priority – Continue to do things like exercise or meditation. My go-to self care practices include getting a massage, exercising, drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods.

5. Realize that the election happens in November, and there’s no sense in stressing about something that hasn’t happened. Make sure you’re registered to vote. Tell your friends to vote, and show up come November 3. It helps me remember that voting is the one thing I have control over.

Do you have suggestions on how to cope with the election stress? Drop them in the comments.

I beg of you, please vote in November. Too much is at stake. You can register to vote at Vote.org.

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