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Elections are Stressful


Odds are you are in the 68% of Americans reporting stress related to presidential elections. In fact, if you’re active on social media, own a television, or encounter coworkers on a regular basis, you might perceive your exposure to political information as unrelenting and ultimately harmful. This has led some to coin the term “Election Stress Disorder.” While this is not a clinical diagnosis, it does accurately describe the impact the presidential election can have on us as individuals.

 

However, there are some strategies you can rely on to help quell the impact of politics:

 

1.     Be intentional

 

Although we live in a world in which media exposure feels constant, we do possess the ability to make conscious choices against consuming such information. Consuming news about harmful events can have a destructive influence on our mental health. However, consuming news about positive experiences can have a more constructive influence on our mental health. This is somewhat related to how we consume the news, which I’ll touch on later.

 

2.     Limit your media consumption

 

We often set time limits throughout our days, in order to increase the likelihood of achieving goals (or lessen the influence of harmful influences). SMART goals work! And they don’t have to exclusively be related to something healthy we are aiming to achieve. For example, social media can lead to social connection. But, “doomscrolling” does not! Setting a specific time limit on how long we plan to spend on social media (with barriers in place such as an alarm or timer) can minimize the likelihood of finding ourselves staring at our phones for hours.

 

3.     Maintain a routine

 

Healthy habits create healthier people. Our minds desire structure and thrive when they exist in a world that is more predictable. Healthy habits create a more predictable world; while maintaining a consistent sleep and work schedule might seem daunting, these habits tend to allow the rest of our habits to fall into place more effectively.

 

4.     Control what you can control (especially your thinking)

 

Voting is a healthy habit that represents our ability to influence elections. However, our minds regularly fall into bad habits. These can include “if/then” thought patterns: “If this person gets elected, then life will be intolerable.” Such rigid thought patterns tend to ignore our past successes in coping with undesirable outcomes. Many of us have lived through numerous elections that resulted in an outcome we hoped to avoid.

 

In therapy, we aim to develop the ability to challenge and reframe our thinking patterns. Additionally, we seek a more refined goal of understanding when and why we fall into unhelpful thinking patterns (in order to respond more effectively). If you’re interested in better understanding how evidence-based therapy could help you, reach out to Roswell Psychology today for a complimentary consultation.

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