3 Ways to Manage Election Year Stress
I pull up my news app on my smart phone, like most Americans do these days and I scan through the headlines. What is happening in the world today? What do I need to know? Have animals done anything cute since yesterday? I scroll and scroll and I start to think, “If I have to read one more thing about COVID, I’m going to scream!” At some point, over the last few months, that last statement changed to, “If I have to read one more thing about the election, I’m going to scream,” except this time it is also complicated by the zillions of commercials that invade my space while I’m watching tiny house videos on YouTube. This year has been so full of stress and uncertainty, confusion and tension, and let’s not forget exhaustion. I thought we could all use a little break from the chaos, so here’s a few things you can do to deal with the most recent thing that has our attention and our stress levels elevated.
As you scroll through your social media, you no doubt see many things that your friends, family, and acquaintances/stalkers have posted. It includes everything from conspiracy theories to political ads to outright antagonizing things meant to draw you in. You’ve seen mature discussions and irrational insult battles. Sometimes you get sucked in. Sometimes you try to ignore it but fume about what you saw. Either way, it has taken away at least some of your peace and contentment.
Unplugging from your social media can be so freeing! I can’t tell you how many people have found that their anxiety and stress have decreased from doing this one simple thing. If you are truly attached to your social media, it will take some self control. I suggest (strongly ;) ) that you take the apps off of your phone. Determine a period of time like a month or until next summer (ya know whatever seems reasonable to you), and just do it!
2. Connect With What is Most Important to You
Instead of getting caught up in click bait or drawn into a pointless debate with someone whose views are the opposite of yours, take a step back and think about what is truly important to you. Is it family? Friends? Nature? Football? Sci-Fi? Whatever it is, put your energy into activities that allow you to connect with those things. Nature is one for me, so when I get stressed I LOVE to go for a walk in a park or in a neighborhood where there’s plenty of nature to be seen. At this point in the year, I’m also soaking up the peace and social distancing fun of sitting around a fire pit with some friends an roasting marshmallows… mmmmmm
3. Get Support
While we’re carrying all of this stress and worrying about so many things, it’s easy to feel isolated. We don’t want to trouble others with what is on our minds or risk ending up in an argument with someone we are close to. We hold in all that stress and worry and keep pushing ahead. The problem is , we can only do that for so long before it starts leaking out in ways we might not even realize, e.g. drinking more, binge eating, snapping at others, neglecting our friends and family.
The truth is, those ones that you are close to, who truly value you, want to be there for you. They may not know what’s wrong, but chances are they have noticed, or have been on the receiving end of your anger misfires. This doesn’t have to mean a big emotional display, although for some of you that might be what you need. What it does mean is an honest, vulnerable conversation with someone who deserves your trust. Yes! I used the “V” word. There is a time and a place to be vulnerable, and it’s better to risk showing your softer side to a loved one than to risk falling into unhealthy, destructive habits.
Therefore, take charge of what you’re doing with your time and emotional energy. Don’t waste it on someone or something that doesn’t deserve it. Remember what’s important to you and make choices that demonstrate that. You’ll be better off for it, and so will your relationships with others.
~*~Lillian Hood is a therapist offering effective online therapy to address the effects of trauma and various forms of anxiety throughout the state of North Carolina. To schedule a free phone consultation, check out our "Contact Us" page or click on the Call Us button at the top of this page.