Coping with a Tense Election Season

In the technology saturated world that we live in, it can be easy to let our mind run a million miles a minute; from thinking about all of the things that need to be done, stressing about things that have happened, and then anxiety sets in.

You cannot turn on the television, listen to the radio, and (definitely can’t) scroll social media without being bombarded with political ads, news stories, and heated opinions. Even those who call themselves “political junkies” are feeling increasingly distressed by the divisive tone that this year’s election season has taken on. Although complete avoidance of the stress caused by the election season is unlikely, here are a few ways to help you cope with the stress.

1. Regularly check in with yourself

Stress usually has warning signs that tell when it is becoming more intense. Decreased sleep, changes in eating habits, areas of tension in your body (for example within your neck and/or shoulders), and feeling more easily irritated are a few signs that stress is increased.

2. Increase your self-care

Self-Care routines are important to establish and utilize during regular levels of stress, but when you recognize that your stress level is increased, it is important to find ways to increase self-care or introduce new self-care strategies into the mix. Some helpful self-care strategies to combat stress are relaxation/mindfulness exercises (deep breathing, meditation, positive imagery), physical exercise (taking a walk/run outside if the weather permits, yoga, playing sports), eating nutritionally balanced meals and making sure to take time to sit down and eat a meal, and doing activities that can distract and comfort you (puzzles, coloring/drawing/painting, drawing a bubble bath, reading a book).

3. Take a device break

As challenging as it may sound, decreasing social media and smartphone usage can be helpful to briefly disconnect from the chaos of the political season. Give yourself a realistic amount of time to spend each day on your social media apps and/or on news websites and allow yourself to do other non-device self-care activities when you would normally be scrolling on your phone or the internet. Also, it can be helpful to disable notifications from social media/new apps during this time to decrease the likeliness that you will open the app after a notification pops-up.