This year has been more difficult than most. Not only has 2020 introduced us to COVID-19 and all its complications, we are on the precipice of a divisive election season. For many of us, this is just added stress, fueling the tumult of anxiety that we may have been feeling throughout the year. For some who struggle with mental illness, this extra intensity is simply overwhelming.
There’s a reason there’s the term “election stress disorder.” When politics consume us, flood our social media, creep into our conversations and inundate our media, it’s hard to ignore the feelings we have. While election stress disorder may not be a real medical disorder, it is a valid feeling. And it can be hard to mitigate these feelings of anxiety, anger and stress when the election is just right around the corner. So what can we do?
How to Cope With Election Stress
While it may seem impossible to avoid the news or political conversations amongst family and friends, there are coping strategies that we can put in place to preserve our own mental wellness.
Take a break from political commentary. Yes, that often means taking a step away from social media and the news. If you feel like election news or political conversations are getting to be too much, direct your attention to other things. Watch a movie, read a book, catch up with a friend or spend extra time with family (and if they’re the ones talking about politics, maybe take a break from family for a bit.)
Practice selfcare.Keep tabs on yourself and your emotions. If you’re having an off day, accept that it’s ok to “treat yourself.” Take a relaxing bath, go for a walk in the middle of the day, indulge in a snack or simply take a break.
Consider talking to a therapist. If you find that your day to day is falling apart or your emotions are tumbling out of control, know that licensed medical professionals are here to help you cope. Our team at Olive Branch Therapy Group are always here to provide you with tools that specifically help you to deal with difficult times like these. We know that it takes tremendous strength to reach out to us, so we’re here if and when you need us.
Take action and vote. One of the reasons we feel stress and/or anxiety is because we feel out of control. To feel more present and in control of your future, take part in the election. Most importantly, vote. (You get more information about voting here.) You can also take part in helping others to vote, volunteer for a cause you care about or campaign you believe in.
We understand it’s been a rough year (and that’s putting it mildly.) While we wish we could say that after the election things will “get better” we know we live in a polarized political atmosphere with many issues left to solve. That’s why it’s so important to build coping strategies to empower yourself and continue to work on what you can control.
As always, Olive Branch is here for you! Now, practice some stress management skills and get out there and vote!
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Noreen Iqbal, LCSW is the founder and therapist at Olive Branch Therapy Group.