How many of us are experiencing increased stress as a result of the upcoming election? A recent survey done by the American Psychological Association found that 52% of American adults are stressed out by the upcoming election. The study also revealed that the election produced equal levels of stress across party lines. Our stress levels are heightened by the stories, images, and social media triggering fear, concern, frustration, and anger. Many of us fear the unknown and feel powerless since we have such little control over the election results. We may catastrophize the outcome of the election and anticipate worst case scenarios. We are bombarded with negative, disturbing, and damaging 24-hour news that perpetuates our increased stress.
Our focus needs to shift to the things we have control over and let go of the rest. For starters, we can limit our media consumption and turn off the continuous news feed and take a digital break. Even limiting our conversations with family and friends about the election may reduce our level of conflict and stress. Exert what control we have by taking the proactive step of voting since our voice does matter even if our candidate doesn’t win. If we’re not comfortable voting for either of the two major candidates, then there is the option of researching and voting for one of the less well-known candidates. Take the time to make good choices when it comes to state and local elections which can impact our lives too. Consider advocating for an issue you support in your community or join a local group and increase your civic involvement.
Of course managing stress through exercise, spending time with friends and family, taking time for yourself, and getting proper rest will help with your coping. Life will go on after the election and we will adjust to the changes. Fortunately our political system has three branches of government so we do have stability through our checks and balances system. Lastly, focus your attention on things and relationships that are stable and secure rather than fixating on the political turmoil. Don’t allow election focus and anxiety to consume you about what might happen; instead reframe your thinking to “what is” and avoid predicting the future. As the Bible reminds us from Matthew 6:34, “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Live for today instead of tomorrow. Don’t give up on America, instead make an individual difference through action.