The best ways to manage election-related anxiety

Posted at 5:20 AM, Nov 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-08 07:22:01-05

(WXYZ) — There is a lot on the line this Election Day, including who will lead the state for the next four years, proposals that could shape the future of voting rights and abortion, and more.

Because of that, the election has turned into a real source of stress for some people, and that anxiety may not end after the election with the possibility of delayed results and looming legal challenges.

It's also impossible to avoid the election. There are ads all over your social media pages, television, and even in your text messages.

Licensed Professional Counsel Kelly Houseman says election stress can lead to seeking constant updates on the horse race, endless scrolling for political information, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, and catastrophizing about election outcomes.

"Even after it's over, depending on the way the results go, people have a hard time kind of coping with the future that they envision," Houseman said.

A survey of nearly 3,200 adults by the American Psychological Association found that 2/3 say the current political environment is a source of stress in their lives.

Houseman says there are steps we can take to control election stress.

The first is to make your vote count by casting a ballot on the issues and candidates you support.

Next, externalize that internal stress by getting involved in advocating for topics and issues you care about, no matter the outcome of this election.

"Just making a difference for the things that matter to you. And that is something that we can control," she said.

Another is to be intentional about your political consumption. Set limits on how much election news you take in. That may mean cutting back on social media and limiting time with family and friends with strong political opinions.

Then there is self-care. You'll be more resilient mentally if you are in a good space physically. Activities like running or brisk walking allow us to burn on anxiety energy and give us something other than politics to focus on.

"Eating better, working out. Those are all ways to just combat stress in general, but especially now with the political climate," Houseman said.

Ber-Henda Williams-- who runs a girl's leadership program called The Power of Girlhood says she has a plan to combat election stress

"You have to find joy with your community and your family in the midst of it. and just stake it in small dosages," she said.

Thanksgiving is just over two weeks away and emotions tied to the outcome of these elections may still be raw, or you may just be over all of the politics and need a break.

Houseman says to have a discussion with your family ahead of time and try to agree on a no politics rule for the holidays.

It will be easier to offer a gentle reminder that politics are off limits than to try to squash that conversation in the moment.