As the election between Trump and Biden nears, stress levels are rising throughout the United States. According to mental health experts, the pandemic is making the situation even worse. Stress and economic pressures can result in mental health issues leading to physical ailments. Americans have been forced to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, a struggling economy, natural disasters and racial unrest in just one year.
The stress leading to the 2020 presidential election is like nothing most Americans have ever dealt with. New circumstances are creating problems and health issues requiring coping mechanisms. A recent study was conducted regarding the Trump and Biden presidential election. The results showed 68 percent of the people living in the United States specifically mentioned the election as a major source of stress.Read More »
The massive number of mail-in ballots means the outcome of the election may not be confirmed by the end of Election Day. There are strategies people can use to cope with both the stress of the election and the impact of the pandemic. Every election has challenges regardless of the candidates. Unfortunately, the United States is currently experiencing feelings of strife and division difficult to cope with.
People should allow themselves to feel their reactions and validate them as a normal stress response. Rejecting or avoiding these feelings often increases stress levels. Election Day is just as inevitable as the associated stress. Being proactive and creating a plan to cope can be extremely helpful. A detailed plan for Election Day can help people calm down.
Decide how and when to vote, the best people to watch the results with and where to watch them. A specific plan is necessary regarding the entire day to eliminate any unmade decisions leading to stress. Decide between voting by mail or in person. Despite the flexibility of the additional option this year, more choices increase stress because a choice must be made.
There are already a lot of people suffering from stress and fatigue resulting from making another decision. Voting by mail is unfamiliar to many people and can feel like a burden. Perfectionists and individuals suffering from anxiety are especially anxious regarding their vote being counted. This leads to a mental struggle to determine the best way to vote to make certain it counts.
Unfortunately, this means some people will not vote at all. Creating a specific plan regarding when and where voting will take place increases the chances the person will follow through. This often relieves the stress from making a decision. Specifics for the Election Day routine are extremely important including the exact time and date, how to get to the voting facility and who will be coming.
For anyone interested in volunteering, selecting the easiest option is usually the best choice. Some people have strong feelings about the 2020 presidential election and want to show support for their candidate by volunteering. Many of these individuals are already overwhelmed by their family responsibilities, health concerns, finances, work relationships and parenting.
All of this leads to increased tension and higher stress levels. The need to decide the best way to volunteer combined with decision fatigue can prevent the person from taking action. The first step is to determine the simplest option to show support to a candidate in addition to voting. Take action before considering any of the other options. Overthinking all of the available options can lead to decision paralysis.
Once one action is taken, it is easier to take another. Acknowledging feelings is extremely important. Wanting to have a yard sign for a candidate can lead to a fear of alienating neighbors, family members and friends with a different viewpoint. Having good relationships in life is important. Admitting to feelings of ambivalence can make it easier to cope with. This can prevent overthinking regarding minor details.
Just because two people disagree does not mean they are unable to remain close. A lot of the fear about the election is because many people believe the United States will become even more divided. A good way to cope with this fear is to stay close to those you disagree with. Avoiding these individuals will increase both stress and anxiety. Avoiding a friend with a bumper sticker for a different candidate or neighbors with a sign showing an opposite view will increase feelings of anxiety.
Remaining friendly often results in a feeling of acceptance and calm. Do not think about the presidential election of 2016. Individuals traumatized by this election tend to replay emotions and memories mentally leading to an increase in health issues, fear, anxiety and stress. Republicans may feel like they made the right choice. Democrats might be shocked by the 2016 election results.
Instead of ignoring the emotions and memories, take a moment to think and allow the compassion necessary to calm down. If this is not enough, take 20 or 30 minutes to write down feelings triggered by the last election. Include emotions, thoughts and frustrations. Now write a response with compassion. Repeat this procedure for a few days.
The result helps with the emotional processing required to cope with difficult experiences. This helps ensure the memories and easier to handle. Plan an enjoyable activity for the day after Election Day. This offers something to think about besides the presidential election. Additional events can be planned for the next week or the weekend after the election.
Life will continue regardless of how much time is necessary for counting the votes. This concept is reinforced when enjoyable activities are planned. There may not be as many options because of the pandemic but the fall weather offers some great choices such as a picnic in the backyard or a scenic drive. If the election is triggering high levels of stress, deciding where election night will be spent is important.
Some people need support to remain calm on election night. Planning ahead ensures necessary support will be available whether in person or through a virtual connection. Think about what needs to be eliminated during the election including stressful individuals, disagreements with relatives or friends and social media. Anyone who already has a therapist should talk to them regarding election stress and frustration.
A good therapist is there to provide support and help with the management of feelings and thoughts regardless of personal beliefs. The political opinions of the therapist are irrelevant. What is important is receiving the support necessary to remain calm until the election is over and the votes counted. If there is any hesitation, talk to the therapist first to make certain they are comfortable with the potential discussion.
As Election Day gets closer and closer, it is natural to feel stress. Managing stress levels is critical for mental and physical health and overall calm.
Explore Games and Apps