A recent survey by the American Psychological Association showed that more than two thirds of U.S. adults are experiencing significant stress from the 2020 presidential election. Psychologists have coined stress and anxiety caused by this political polarization as “Election Stress Disorder.”
Since results from the election could take days or even weeks, it’s important to know best practices for coping and when to get help.
Below are ways to manage Election Stress Disorder and advice for when to seek professional help.
Set a limit on your news consumption during the election.
With news updates at our fingertips, negative articles can cause an information overload that leads to unnecessary anxiety. Being constantly bombarded by political news can negatively impact mental health over time. One way to combat this is to set a timer and limit how much news you consume each day. When the timer goes off, put the phone away and focus on other areas of your life.
Prepare for no results.
Anxiety is caused by uncertainty and it is likely we won’t know final results for some time. You can counter this uncertainty by preparing for an election day that is different from previous years. Be on the lookout for disinformation or political claims calling the election before officials have done so.
Be mindful of how you spend your time.
It’s easy to pick up your phone and begin mindlessly scrolling through negative political news. While you wait for the final count to come in, be mindful about how you’re spending your time and focus on productive ways to keep your mind occupied. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, staying connected with loved ones or taking on a new hobby are all ways to practice mindfulness and focus your energy into productive areas of your life.
Recognize if the stress is becoming too much and seek help.
Mental health experts across the country have seen a huge uptick in the need for mental health services. If you feel that this election is having an impact on your ability to sleep, focus on work, or is making you irritable or anxious around people with different political views, it may be time to seek help.
If you are experiencing mental health issues related to the election or other aspects of your life it is important to consult with a mental health professional. Many licensed Naturopathic Physicians are experts in mental health and will be able to work with you to identify the root cause of your concerns and teach you positive tools to combat feelings of stress and anxiety.
Dr. Steven Katz is a licensed Naturopathic Physician and President of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association (AzNMA), a professional organization of Naturopathic Doctors in the state of Arizona. The vision of AzNMA is to ensure the growth of naturopathic medicine through recognition and education. For more information about AzNMA, visit AZNMA.org.