CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) This election cycle took over our lives more than any election before it. Elaine Ducharme Ph.D, ABPP shared tips for dealing with post election anxiety.
APA’s 2016 Stress in America™ survey revealed that two in three Americans (66 percent) say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress, and 57 percent say that they are stressed by the current political climate. Symptoms of stress can vary from person to person but often include a combination of emotional (worry, tension, irritability) and physical (headaches, insomnia, stomach problems) reactions.
People deal with stress in many different ways, some healthy and some unhealthy. Low to moderate levels of stress can positively motivate us to complete a project or achieve a goal. A lot of stress, however, can negatively affect our emotional and physical health. High levels of stress have been associated with anxiety, depression, fatigue, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Tips to handle your anxiety:
- Stay informed, but know your limits. Take digital breaks and do something fun and relaxing.
- Find commonalities with others. Avoid heated discussions and try to identify commonalities within your different views.
- Find meaningful ways to get involved in your community. Identify issues that are important to you, and research organizations that work on those issues. Consider getting involved in local politics, where it can be possible to see the direct impact of your efforts. Attend a city council meeting or a town hall meeting to listen to and share your ideas with elected officials. Taking active steps to address your concerns can lessen feelings of stress.
- Seek solace. Engaging in soothing activities, such as meditation, prayer, progressive relaxation or mindfulness, can help you connect to the present moment and find some peace.
- Take care of yourself. Because stress can have a physical and emotional impact on your overall health, find activities you enjoy to help you recharge and reduce your stress, such as exercising, listening to your favorite music or spending time with close family and friends. It’s important to prioritize getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and avoiding ineffective coping mechanisms such as alcohol and substances use.
- If stress starts interfering with daily routine for an extended period of time, or if you are unable to manage stress on your own, it might be time to see a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional. Psychologists are trained to understand the connection between the mind and body, and can help you to identify problem areas and develop an action plan for changing them.