5 Ways to Handle Election Stress Disorder
Although Tuesday is Election Day, many have coined “Election Week” as a more appropriate name. It references the fact that in many races across the country, it may take longer to distinguish the winner. And during this mid-term election there is plenty of anxiety to go around to a very polarized America. According to the American Psychological Association, election stress disorder is when voters are fearful or anxious about upcoming elections.
There is no doubt that politics have been intense in recent years. And both sides of the political aisle blame the other. And both sides believe they are right when it comes to their perspective, convictions, and on issues important to them in general.
It’s speculated that more than 50% of Americans suffered from election stress disorder in the 2020 election. That’s easy to believe. Couple that with the global pandemic, and that was sure to be a recipe for overwhelm for many people.
Coping with Election Stress Disorder
So, what are some ways that we can minimize election stress moving forward?
5 Ways to Deal with election stress:
- Unplug/distract yourself. Being distracted is often seen as negative because we are supposed to be focused on something or someone. For example, paying attention to a teacher in a classroom or genuinely listening to a friend when they have something serious to discuss. But when it comes to the election and the results that follow, a distraction may be a positive choice to make. Abandoning phones and live television temporarily, and instead, opting to do something enjoyable, can be the simple response to stressful stimuli. Go for a run. Go to the movie theater. Read a book. Meet friends for coffee or lunch.
- Stay informed, but don’t overly indulge. There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with important events that transpire, but you can limit this to 15-30 minutes of news viewing a day. Turning off the notifications on your phone or deleting the social media or news apps can also help. This will make it harder for you to access election information, thereby helping to ease your stress levels.
- Vacay or staycay. If it’s within budget and in your schedule to do so, take a small vacation or even a staycation in town. A trip out of town to experience something new or even a change in scenery in town can leave you feeling refreshed.
- Vote as soon as possible. With mail-in voting, you can fill out your ballot ahead of time in the comfort of your own home and drop it off at an official ballot location/box. This will minimize some of the anxiety with standing in line on Election Day.
- Avoid overly opinionated people (or if you can’t, don’t engage with them). You know the type. They are waiting for an argument or will either say things to you that they are well-aware will trigger you into an argument. When arguing over politics, there are no winners. Everyone is left frustrated, angry, and worst of all, each individual has wasted their time trying to convince the other to agree with them. Instead of agreeing to disagree or accepting the opinion of the other person, the goal becomes to win and convince the other that they are indeed “right” while the other party is indeed, “wrong.”
We live in a democracy where citizens 18 years of age and older who are eligible to register to vote, have the opportunity to voice what’s important to them on the ballots every 2-4 years. It’s a precious right and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Election stress disorder or not, we have the ability to voice our concerns with each vote. Don’t let the negativity and anxiety cloud the empowering experience.
If you’re having serious emotions and symptoms in association with the election, please seek out a licensed professional. And if it’s an emergency, dial 9-1-1.