Election Stress Getting To You? Four Ways To Keep Calm
This story is excerpted from a longer one that was published on NPR on October 26. The full article is available here.
With Election Day just around the corner, many of us are on edge. Nearly 70 percent of people said the elections are a significant source of stress, according to a survey out this month from the American Psychological Association.
The survey also found that a majority—77 percent—are worried about the country’s future, says Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association (APA). “Seventy-one percent said that this is the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.”
Ways to cope with the stress
Uncertainty really gets to us, says Lynn Bufka, a psychologist with the APA. “What causes stress and uncertainty is when things feel out of our control, when they seem like we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says.
A good way to cope with all the unknowns is to start by managing our expectations, says Bufka. And then focus on the big picture. Here’s how.
- Prepare mentally for delayed results
First of all, expect delays in election results. “The reason that’s important is mentally, if we’re expecting a clear answer and we don’t have it, that just extends the uncertainty for us,” she says.
It could be days or a couple of weeks before we have a clear answer.
Then, says Bufka, plan how you will spend the time waiting for results. If watching TV, scanning the news, stresses you out, don’t do it. Instead, do something that brings you joy: for example, taking a physically distanced walk with a friend, going for a bike ride or reading a book.
- Double down on stress-reducing habits
There are also some simple, healthy habits that are known to buffer us against stress, says Wright.
“We need to be eating healthy. We need to really be getting the right amount of sleep,” she says. “We need to be staying active. That can mean even just going for a walk. And we need to maintain those social connections.”
- Replace scrolling with something nourishing
It helps to unplug from news and devices every now and then, Wright says. “We need to know what’s going on, but we don’t need the late-breaking news every second of the day,” she says. “We know that that connection to our devices … a constant connection to information, actually drives up our stress levels.”
- Look for signs of hope
The new survey also found that the majority of Americans do still feel hopeful despite their stresses.
If you are experiencing significant anxiety or stress in anticipation of Election Day, remember that confidential support is available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). To contact the In-House EAP, call 240-314-1040 or email Jeffrey Becker LCSW-C, CEAP, or Robyn Rosenbauer LCSW-C, CEAP. You may also contact the External EAP – KEPRO at 866-496-9599 or EAPhelplink.com, passcode: MCPS