Feeling stress, uncertainty or even depressed post-election? You’re not alone. In a recent national survey, over 70% of people said this year’s elections are a significant source of stress in their lives (that’s up from 52% in 2016). Combine the elections with COVID-19 and feeling anxious and overwhelmed is understandable. The good news is there are ways to cope.
Tips for how to prioritize your mental health post-election:
- Minimize screen time or “doomscrolling”: Chances are, your TV and social media channels have been taken over by the election craze. It’s important to stay informed, but it might be time to turn off your computer or TV for a few days (or weeks). Read a book, do a crossword, go for a walk or run, or call a friend or family member to catch up (but no political talk allowed). Spend time focusing on activities that bring you peace. When you’re ready, try to limit your media intake or set boundaries for yourself such as only checking Facebook once a day or limiting your screen time to 20 minutes.
- Avoid political arguments: It may be tempting to weigh in, complain or boast to a coworker, friend or family member, but it’s not likely that the interaction will leave you feeling good. Instead, politely excuse yourself from the conversation or direct it to a less contentious topic. And remember, set ground rules to keep political talk off the menu at Thanksgiving.
- Pay attention to signs of depression or anxiety: While some stress is normal and even healthy, if symptoms such as worry, dread and hopelessness are impacting your quality of life, consider talking with a mental health professional. Seeking treatment can have a huge impact on your overall wellbeing.
If you have healthcare through Republic, check out the mental health benefits available to you. You can also call the Optum Public Crisis Line, a toll-free emotional support help line, at (866) 342-6892. It’s free of charge and available to anyone, so you can share it with family and friends. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In the thick of all the news coverage and social media posts about the results of the elections, there are resources that can help manage post-election emotions. The links below might be helpful to you:
- How our friendship survives our opposing politics, Ted Talk (July 2020)
- Do you have election stress disorder – 3 ways to cope, NBC News (Oct 2020)
- Election stress getting to you? 4 ways to keep calm, NPR (Oct 2020)
- Most Americans are experiencing ‘significant’ election stress. Here’s how to cope, Today (Oct 2020)
- 5 science-backed ways to find happiness right now, Fast Company (Oct 2020)
Put your self-care methods into practice now
This is the time to reach into your toolkit of things that have helped ease your stress or sadness in the past. Focus on the basics that keep your body healthy – drinking water, being active and getting enough sleep. Start a journal, connect with a close friend or family member, listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite movie or TV show, or try out a new recipe. If you are getting caught up in a constant stream of news and social media, take a break. And remember, we are all in this together.