Election Anxiety and How to Cope

By the time you read this piece, one of the most pivotal elections of our time will be in the history books. Regardless of which side of the aisle your feet are planted, the outcome will impact your life and the lives of those for the next generations.

The mid-term elections of 2022 bring with them a stark contrast in the positions and rhetoric of the candidates for state and federal level offices. What’s on the line? Your vote will decide which party holds the majority in both chambers of Congress, the Senate, and the House. Voting will impact all 435 seats in the House of Representatives as well as 35 Senate seats.

Issues such abortion access, crime, and gun policy as well as voting rights will be heavily impacted by who wins state-level elections. Regardless of in which state you cast your vote, it will have an effect on the entire country.

The 24-hour news cycle, commercials, campaign signs dotting the landscape, texts and alerts imploring people to donate to the campaigns of their allegiance, have taken their toll on our collective psyche. A survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association finds two thirds of American adults consider the election a significant source of stress. How do you know, even after the election, that you have experienced this type of stress?

• Compulsion to watch or listen to news reports

• Doomscrolling- going down the rabbit hole of bad news

• Obsession with conspiracy theories, whether or not you believe them

• Increased blood pressure and heart rate

• Sleeplessness

• Perseverative ‘what if?’ thoughts

• Mood swings

• Getting into contentious conversations about politics

• Feeling a sense of helplessness and hopelessness

 Wondering what to do to address this sometimes-overwhelming anxiety?

• Breathe. Simple deep inhalations and exhalations will help to settle your nervous system.

• Recognize what you can and cannot control.

• If the outcome of the election is not what you wanted, get involved in your community to address the issues that are impacted.

• Spend time with kindred spirits who can provide solace and support.

• Be in nature, appreciating the beauty of the environment.

• Engage in favorite activities that nurture you.

• If you have a spiritual practice, immerse yourself in it.

• Move your body. Dance, yoga, hiking, workouts, playing sports will help you move the energy.

• Put your thoughts on paper. Journal about it, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, write articles.

• Remember that our country has survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and will survive the divisiveness we have been living with since the 2016 election.

Any politician who can be elected only by turning Americans against other Americans is too dangerous to be elected.” -Thomas Sowell

 Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” -John F. Kennedy

Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power become lovers of wisdom.” –Plato

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