5 Ways to Reduce Election Stress

Election stress is real! As we approach the days leading up to the election, more and more people are finding it difficult to deal with their anxiety and stress. In a recent poll conducted by ABC News, 46 percent of voters describe the election as a source of stress…roughly equal numbers of both Clinton and Trump supporters. Nearly a quarter of people, in both candidates’ camps, say the stress is serious. In our busy day-to-day lives, we sometimes get so caught up in our work, to-do lists, and activities that we forget to simply pause. Stress, anxiety, and depression can quickly catch up with us if we aren’t able to find balance. There are a few key ways you can manage election stress before it gets out of control. Here are five tips:

1. Stop, Drop, and Breathe – Remember as a kid when your mom or dad would put you in a time out during a tantrum? This is an adult version of a time out. If at any time you feel like you’re overwhelmed, irritated or annoyed by election talk, take a time out. Hit the floor and breathe. Take nice, deep slow breaths and exhale out the stress and tension in your body. Breathe in through the nose for the count of 5, hold the breath for the count of 5 and exhale through the nose to the count of 5…repeat this cycle 4-6 times. Grounding yourself into the floor for a few minutes can make a big difference. Stop, Drop and Breathe … take your own adult version of an election time out.

2. Get Up and Move – During exercise, several different chemicals, such as endorphins and serotonin, are released into the brain, each contributing huge positive effects on our minds. These “happy hormones” are very powerful in boosting our mood and self-esteem while also decreasing stress. As we go about our everyday lives, it’s important each day to get up and move! It could be something as simple as dancing with friends, walking outside, or taking a spin class with upbeat music. Take your mind off of election stress by stepping away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression and find joy in moving your body.

3. Be in Service to Others – Ask yourself, “How can I help? How can I serve?” When we can take a step back from the negative talk of the election and shift our focus on helping others less fortunate, it gets us away from election related stress. We can find instant gratification from helping people through community service or volunteering for an organization. There are so many people in need and even getting your friends or family involved with you can feel so good. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Stop judging and complaining about other people and situations and begin to take action with the one thing you can control…which is you. Help contribute to positive energy in your community by giving back.

4. Gratitude – It can be easy for us to dwell on what’s going wrong in our lives or in the world. Coming back to gratitude is an easy and important way to shift out of a state of negativity and anxiety. Try keeping a daily gratitude journal where you write down the things you are thankful for each day, in the morning when you have your tea or coffee or at night before you go to bed. A few minutes of reflection can really make a difference and shift the energy inside of you. Always reminding yourself of the many blessings you do have in your life.

5. Unplug yourself – Often anxiety and stress levels rise as we get drawn into the drama and discussions of election talk on social media. If you find yourself getting irritated behind the screen of your cell phone or computer…take a step back and disconnect. Take a social media detox until the election is over. Before you go to bed unplug yourself from technology and do something more nurturing, such as taking a hot bath, reading a book or listening to a guided meditation.

While we can’t control other people and their reactions to the stress and negativity around the election, we can take responsibility for our own actions. Be proactive with how you respond…choose to respond responsively, rather than react negatively, by coping with your election stress in healthy ways. Try incorporating these tips and watch how you will reduce stress and feel a lot more at ease during the election frenzy!

– Pam