Managing Election Distress During a Pandemic
As if 2020 couldn’t be more anxiety-inducing, election time is just around the corner. Regardless of whether you’re on the left or right, everyone is feeling a bit more on edge this election season and really for most of us, the whole election year. With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, massive job loss, mental illness on the rise, social unrest, and so many other factors, the future of America is at present, uncertain.
Here are a few ideas to ease the tension
SET UP A THERAPY SESSION
Speaking with a therapist offers us the support and validation we all need. Having a space where you can freely speak your mind without fear of judgement is an amazingly healing experience. It is dedicated time just for you where the person sitting across from you (maybe on screen these days, let’s be real) has been highly trained in human behavior and is likely naturally superb at listening and creating a safe space. Therapy gives us a very insightful look into our own mind, our experience and behaviors with the added benefit of increasing our perspective. A common part of therapy is learning skills, tools and coping mechanisms to better deal with the stressors of life and well, this election is a pretty big stressor for some.
GET OUT AND VOTE
Voting is how we can use our voices and be heard. Voting and encouraging others to do the same can help give a sense of impact. Look up when, how, and where to vote in your state and local area.
With so much uncertainty, having a plan for what we will be doing before, during, and after election day can help to ground us and tame our nerves. In a planner or google calendar write out an election day plan. In addition to voting, this plan can include things like a nice breakfast, self-care activities, avoidance of social media and news, a zoom happy hour and getting to bed early. Planning in advance allows for clarity of direction towards the positive and helpful rather than engaging in misdirected activities that may add to our stress.
CONNECT TO A GROUP
Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people helps with the feelings of isolation and helplessness. Hearing others talk about their lives, struggles and successes can put things into perspective. With quarantine and social distancing still in action, online therapy, support groups and book clubs are the way to go.
INTENTIONAL SELF CARE
Now is the perfect time to start or revamp your self-care routine. Having a good go-to self-care regimen can help lower cortisol(the stress hormone) levels and it’s the perfect break from the concern and stress that is building for so many right now. Self-care activities can range from time alone to going to the doctor, either way, intentionality is key. Eating our favorite foods, watching a funny movie, taking a technology-free walk and journaling are great examples of self-care when stressors are coming from a national and global level. Meditation is also a great way to tame intrusive thoughts, you know, thoughts like, “If _______ is elected, ________”.
Election grief is the post-election experience that results in heavy feelings of sadness and despair. This form of grief is legitimate and occurs following most if not all elections. Therapists saw this in session in droves in the months after the 2016 election. We can expect to go through the same five stages of grief that occur following other loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages can come on at any time and in any order and may look different from person to person and loss to loss.
However this election turns out, there will be a shift, there will be change and now is a great time to prepare. Empower yourself to take charge of what you can and engage with other people and activities that will support your joy and wellness.