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Coping with election anxiety: Tips to make sure you don't get overwhelmed
Mental Health

Coping with election anxiety: Tips to make sure you don't get overwhelmed

By Dr. Shondolyn Sanders, Licensed Psychologist and Behavioral Health Consultant
Posted: November 6, 2020

Millions of Americans are waiting to learn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election, but it’s likely that a winner won’t be officially decided quickly. This uncertainty may cause added stress in your life, during a year that has already pushed our mental health to the limit.

Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed.

Is there anything I can do to ease my anxiety over the results of the election?

It’s important to remember that politics and elections have long been a source of anxiety. Outcomes of elections can impact a person’s job, home, family or income – which can add stress. It’s important to know you are not alone in feeling this way. Many of your close family and friends are feeling the same way.

Reach out to your family, friends and support networks to talk about your feelings. This is one of the most important actions that you can do.

Acknowledge that there are some things we cannot control, but there are some things we can control. We can control our right to vote. If you voted, find comfort and be proud in knowing that your voice was heard and counted.

When we’re stressed or anxious, one of the first things we tend to do is neglect our self-care. We forget to do what is important for our body: sleep, eat well, hydrate and exercise. Over the next few days or weeks, take time to make sure your body is getting what it needs. These steps are always important but especially during times when we are experiencing anxiety.

How can social media impact our mental health?

If some people are feeling anxious, prolonged exposure to social media and media consumption can negatively affect moods. Constant reminders and updates on cell phones cause a lot of people to feel overwhelmed.

Set aside a specific time frame to view social media and hold firm to that boundary.

Limiting your amount of media consumption will likely have a positive impact on your mood.

Spend the rest of your free time doing something you love, like spending time with your family.


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Making sure you don't get overwhelmed

2020 has been an especially difficult year with COVID-19 and now a contentious presidential election. What can we do to make sure we don’t get overwhelmed?

COVID-19 has distanced us and when we are in our pockets of isolation our thoughts tend to become more and more negative and severe. Remind yourself that you’re not alone and many people are feeling the same way.

Acknowledge what is in your control and what isn’t.

The election outcome is out of your control now but you can control spending time with loved ones – even if it has to be virtually.

We can’t control other people’s behavior when it comes to COVID-19. But we can control our own behavior and follow best practices that are proven

We can wear a mask whenever we are out in public, in addition to staying 6 feet apart from others.

We can frequently wash our hands and not touch our face.

We can socially distance from others and avoid large crowds or unmasked social gatherings.

We can monitor our physical health and seek medical attention for any emerging symptoms.

Prioritize your mental health.

There are many unknowns right now which can be a source of anxiety. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself grace.

Set healthy boundaries for yourself.

See the above question about social media and media consumption.

Don’t be afraid to express your needs to family members or friends who may be a source of anxiety.

Feel empowered to disengage yourself from tense discussions.

Is there any difference in the anxiety people may be feeling now compared to anxiety they were feeling before the election?

For some people, delayed gratification can be a source of tension in their lives. The waiting game can be excruciating for some. We want what we want right now.

Should people stay engaged with what is happening once a winner is announced?

People want to be heard. You’ve cast your ballot but you are still a person who has beliefs, convictions, and values. That is part of being human. Expressing those values and living out those values are important to mental health. Research shows that if you are doing things that directly align with what you believe and what you value – that it improves your mood.

How can I seek mental help if I need it?

If you are a Methodist patient you can reach out to Primary Care Behavioral Health: 901-567-7415. If you’re not a Methodist patient, please seek help through the Living Well Network: 901-762-8558.

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