At last, the midterm elections have arrived. After months of news coverage, debates, controversy and a barrage of advertisements, we’ll head to the polls tomorrow to cast our votes. If this election has been stressing you out, you’re in good company. The constant negativity and uncompromising views on both sides of the aisle have created an environment where tensions are unusually high. During times like these, it helps to know how to manage stress and function in a healthy manner. These tips should help.
Vote: Remember that regardless of the outcome, you have a voice and you live in a country where you are encouraged to exercise your rights. Voting is the best thing you can do to reduce anxiety about the election. Not only is voting empowering, but it’s a validation of your belief systems and a declaration of your individuality.
Evaluate your de-stressors: While you may have a preferred method for relieving stress, keep in mind that now is not the time for binge eating or drinking. A cocktail may initially do the trick for calming your nerves, but too many drinks will cloud your mind, alter your emotions and disrupt your sleep. And while that donut might provide some instant gratification, eating your way through your child’s Halloween bucket will just make you feel lousy. Although exercise is a great way to work off some stress, wearing your body down to the point of exhaustion is unhealthy.
Unplug: The endless cycle of election coverage and the nonstop social media updates will do nothing but rile you up and drive you crazy. It’s fine to check in from time to time, but for the most part, I suggest taking a break from the news. Try to focus on other things and remember that the results will be waiting for you in the morning.
Distract yourself: Once you’ve cast your vote, find something fun to do. Have lunch with a friend, take the kids to the park, or work on a project – anything you can do to get your mind off the exit polling and the impending results.
Be with your people: While I would never discourage a healthy and respectful political discussion, election night is not the best time to gather donkeys and elephants in the same room. If you’re planning to watch the results trickle in, I suggest doing so with like-minded individuals. When not properly managed, stress and tension can lead to arguments and hurt feelings.
Regardless of your political affiliation, elections provide a great opportunity to seek common ground with others and to practice being tolerant of those around you.
David Lowenstein, Ph.D. is a psychologist and the clinical director of Lowenstein & Associates, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to providing therapeutic services to individuals and families, he offers training and consultation to numerous associations, schools and agencies around the country. Additionally, he is a frequent radio and TV guest and a resource and contributing writer for numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. Contact Dr. David Lowenstein at 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.