According the American Psychological Association (APA), over 68% of Americans report the election is a significant source of stress in their life. While you will not find election stress disorder in the DSM 5 (the standard classification of mental health disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States), it is something many mental health professionals are recognizing as a real concept.
According to the Mayo Clinic, election stress disorder is an experience of overwhelming anxiety that can manifest itself in a number of ways. It can affect people physically, mentally and socially. So, no matter what side of the political aisle you find yourself, taking care of your well-being on Election Day — and in the days after — is important. Especially, if you find yourself struggling with election stress and searching for ways to cope.
The APA recently offered the following list to help individuals manage stress related to the election. We have also included other activities that might help you cope.
- Avoid Dwelling on things you can’t control and focus on what you can. Uncertainty can be stressful and can lead to dwelling on thoughts of the “worst-case” scenario. Instead of focusing on the uncertainty, attempt to recognize what you can control in the situation. A good exercise is writing down everything you are worried about on a piece of paper. Once you have done that, circle only the things you can control. Now, focus your energy on only those things in your control and let go of everything else. If it is helpful, create a new list with only the items left to focus on.
- Engage in meaningful activities. Find an activity that you enjoy and spend time doing it. Also, give yourself permission to take a break from the news. Try limiting your news exposure to only to a specific amount of time on election day and in the days that follow.
- Stay connected. Having a friend or family member you can talk with for support can be helpful. Studies show having a strong support system can be beneficial to both your mental and your physical health. If you need to speak with a mental health professional, consider calling KALAP to gain access to short term counseling services.
- Stay active. Get moving to release the energy you feel from stress. If the weather is nice, try going outside for a walk. Simple things like cleaning and organizing can also serve as a mindfulness exercise. Regaining control over your immediate environment through decluttering your space can also aid in reducing stress.
Another important aspect to recognize is that we might not learn who won the election on Election Day. This where recognizing the things we can control and accepting the things we cannot can be helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety you feel. So, in the days following the election, consider making a plan for your self-care. Lastly, if you find yourself experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety and are in need of assistance, please reach out to KALAP. Contact us by phone at 785-368-8275 or by email.