Is election stress making you feel anxious?
I have a few strategies to feel better, work better, and relate better in the midst of election stress.
Reduce election stress by taking control of something
One of the reasons elections creates stress is that they are by design uncertain. We don’t know who will win and we potentially upend our government every four years. Uncertainty triggers stress. Democracy in action seems pretty stressful right now when it is placed on top of a global pandemic, an economic downturn, an increasing awareness of systemic racism. That is a giant uncertainty sandwich!
Check out these previous posts about uncertainty fatigue and why uncertainty is so stressful.
In my research, when things feel out of control (uncertain) taking control of something reduces stress. It doesn’t even have to be something big. I think this is one of the reasons many of us organized our garages and basements when the pandemic started. Putting things in order makes us feel in control.
What can we control now?
We can vote!
Voting can help reduce election stress, and if you’ve already voted – feel free to disengage from election messaging. Which brings me to my second tip:
Election stress is powered by marketing messages – you don’t have to participate.
Marketing messages are designed to elicit an emotional response. Whether the ad makes you feel warm and fuzzy or upset, video marketing taps into your emotions. Scrolling through Facebook or watching television opens the door to a bombardment of messages. Do what you can to limit your exposure.
Your brain doesn’t passively watch these messages. It jumps in and reacts – whether you want it to or not. Limiting other triggers of that type of emotional response is important too. If scrolling through what your friends post on Facebook leads to wondering if you need to unfriend people… that is election stress in action.
I have personally adapted my expectations about when we should expect to know the results of the election. I am committed to avoid doom scrolling through Facebook. I will read the newspaper, but won’t watch the sure-to-be-non-stop guessing about who will win. It isn’t healthy for me to be exposed to that kind of messaging.
Election stress can hurt relationships.
It used to be considered rude to discuss politics – and yet, our system of government was created to encourage divergent points of view. Sadly, who we vote for has become a relationship litmus test for many. I have a couple of thoughts about that:
- You don’t have to talk about politics. There are so many other topics we can discuss. I’m not saying this election isn’t important. It is very important. But, at this point, you’ve probably decided where you stand and so have other people. Conversation doesn’t have to be about convincing that person you are right. On our sailing team, we don’t talk about politics. It is a rule. How we vote has no influence on how well we perform as a team.
- Ask yourself, “What if this is the best decision for them?” Their decision is based on something. Even if you completely disagree on the basis, we each get to choose how to cast our ballot.
There are more ideas to deal with election stress in the video.
One final thought…
No matter what happens on November 3rd, the sun will still rise, the earth will still turn. Some people will be happy, some others will not. We will all still have work to do as citizens of this democracy. Go vote. If you voted, disengage from the messaging. Be kind to one another.
Don’t let election stress tank your relationships or your quality of life.