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Anxiety and Elections

How to Handle Anxiety Around Election Season

When we think of anxiety causes, we often don’t think about seasonal causes! This can be anxiety surrounding tax time, the holiday season, or a new year of school. But a seasonal cause of anxiety that doesn’t often get addressed is election season! We’re deep into elections 2020 and we’re surrounded by ad campaigns, marketing, commercials, and more, all trying to gain our votes for their candidates. It can make us feel overwhelmed with anxiety by the time elections day actually rolls around.

 If you’re experiencing anxiety around elections this year, know that you’re not alone and this is very normal. Since the results are still unknown and out of our control, this can really bring on stressors and feelings of anxiety. With all that has happened in 2020 it makes sense that we may be feeling hopeless, frustrated, worried, or uncertain. We’re all heightened by the tension and stress election season brings on, along with the negativity it can often bring out in opposing parties. 

Since we are always connected on social media there’s no way of escaping thinking about the upcoming election. It can be difficult to navigate this approaching season while staying optimistic and focused on your own mental health, self-care, and the life around you. And while it’s understandably difficult to stay focused on all of these things, it’s so important for our wellbeing that we make time for them!

The good news is, there’s many things you can incorporate into your life to help combat anxiety this election season. Some require more of your time than others, and some require more attention than others, but there’s tools that can work for everyone to help soothe the uneasiness that many of us are experiencing. 

Tools for Anxiety Around Election Season:

  • Take regular breaks from social media and television. This is a big one! It can be healthy all year long to schedule breaks for yourself from social media and television, but especially during a time like election season, breaks from the constant ad campaigns are necessary! When we’re exposed to consistent messaging that tends to be slanderous or negative, it can be very easy for our thoughts to slowly shift into a negative space. We can become irritable and heightened all because of the media that we’re consuming! Think about when you’re supporting a friend through a difficult time, often just the energy spent with that person will be very different from when they’re in a better place. If the energy around us can be affected that easily, so can our thoughts! Schedule breaks from the media such as a weekend free from social apps, or an evening without television once in a while. Your mind will thank you!

  • Carve out non-negotiable time for your self-care. Self-care can often be the first thing that gets put on the backburner when we get overwhelmed. It’s important to see your self-care during this time as a pillar in your wellness: something that has to be present and is non-negotiable! This means creating time for it and sticking to it, especially when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. It can be the very thing to help ease that anxiety, so carving out time for self-care will be an important part of moving through election season in a healthy mental state.

  • Set boundaries surrounding election conversation. One of the things that can cause the most anxiety during elections is the constant conversation about them and not being able to get away from it! It’s on our social feeds, the television, the radio, among our friends and family. While setting boundaries can be uncomfortable at first, being able to either excuse yourself from a conversation about the elections or ask to change the topic will both actually empower you to take control of what type of conversations you’re participating in. Just like with all the hard things we’ve been dealing with this year, when we set boundaries around conversation, we protect ourselves from becoming overwhelmed with the topic.

  • Seek out a professional if your anxiety is interrupting your life. If you’re utilizing tools to help with the anxiety you’re experiencing during this time and you find that it’s still showing up at an intensity that seems to be interrupting your everyday life, this is when we gently encourage you to seek out a therapist to assist you in getting the anxiety under control and your quality of life back. You deserve a balanced life, and living with intense anxiety throws that balance off and affects all areas of life, including work, relationships, home life, and school. It’s so important to get the help you deserve when you’re struggling, and the sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll find relief. If you need help with finding a therapist or don’t even know where to start, we have some resources available on our Mental Health Resources page for you.

  • Figure out how you are voting ahead of time. Are you planning to vote-by-mail? In-person vote? Do you know where you are registered? Below are some really helpful resources to help you navigate all of these really valid questions.

To help you with the logistics, here are some action steps you can take while preparing to register:

Plan ahead! Visit the U.S. Vote Foundation to find your state's deadline
Determine if your state allows online registration by visiting the following page from the National Conference of State Legislatures
If your state doesn't allow online registration, or you prefer to register via mail, visit Vote.gov to download the National Mail Voter Registration Form
After it's completed and signed, mail your form to the location listed for your specific state
If you'd rather register to vote in person, you can visit your state or municipal election office to register. Visit USA.gov and use the search bar to find your preferred office!

Affirmations To Help You Get Through This:

Most of all, we invite you to remember that you’re not alone in what you’re experiencing and that it’s completely normal! Elections are a stressful time for most people and can cause anxiety levels to soar. If your thoughts are telling you that you should have this under control or shouldn’t be feeling anxious in the first place, take some time to have a gentle conversation with yourself and remind yourself that this is a tense time for our country and you’re simply reacting in a normal way to that tension. It may even be helpful to spend some time with a journal and write down some affirmations to yourself that you can revisit when needed during times of stress and anxiety. Here are a few to start with:

"It’s normal to feel anxious during this time. It’s how I respond to my anxiety that matters."

"I notice I’m feeling anxious right now, but I know I have tools to help soothe my anxiety."

"Everything is okay in this moment, I am safe, and I know this anxiety will pass."

"I can choose to respond to my anxiety with helpful tools instead of fear."

We hope these tools and affirmations have helped you put together a plan for how to manage your anxiety around this election season! Remember you are supported and capable of choosing the right methods for yourself to ease the stress of elections, and if you decide to ask for help from a professional, there’s nothing wrong with that and you’re being proactive by reaching out. Let’s all remember our self-care and take good care of ourselves this election season!