How to Deal with Election Anxiety
In 2016, the American Psychiatric Association reported that more than half of Americans, and up to 59% of Millennials are significantly stressed about the election. Things got even worse after the Election Day. Crisis hotlines had record numbers of people calling and texting in. So many therapists found themselves talking politics with their patients, they started calling it Post-Election Stress Disorder. BTW, The New York Times has some tips on how to talk to your therapist about it. Even people who “won” felt some anxiety and sadness. As divided as we are as a country, we seem to be united by our anxiety.
We’re all going to need a little extra support to get through the week. Here are some APA-approved tips.
Turn off the TV
It’s important to stay informed, but you don’t need a min by min report of which races are too close to call. Consider listening to public radio, where anchors report the news with fewer ALL CAPS and !!! or reading the final results online in the morning.
It really isn’t the end of the world. Or even democracy. Watch a documentary or two about times America was fighting itself (The Civil War) or dictators (We Were There) or an epidemic (How to Survive a Plague) and came out on top.
Channel your hurt into helping others. You can do this by signing up to work on the NEXT election (yep, those campaigns have already started) or volunteering for a cause you care about.
If you are feeling angry or anxious, give yourself permission to stay in your bubble. Yes, it’s important to discuss different viewpoints, but everyone is so tense around an election. (Note to self: This isn’t the time to talk to your uncle about climate change/immigration/abortion.) Circle back when you and your political opposites have a more open mind.
OK, not a real tip, but probably a good idea. This SNL sketch of how a lot of people are feeling should do the trick.
If you were hoping for a blue wave and wake up to a red tide, or vice versa, breathe in, breathe out, and try to remember that you aren’t alone. There are probably millions of people who are as upset as you are. Find strength in numbers. If you need some extra support, reach out to one of those crisis lines.