By Steve Coulter
The presidential election is less than 2 weeks away and anxiety is running extremely high. The term “election stress disorder” is being thrown around to describe how people are feeling about the upcoming election.
A new survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 68 percent of Americans said the election “is a significant” source of stress in their lives.
Following news coverage, watching debates and scrolling through social media is taking a physical and emotional toll on Americans.
The election has divided friends, families, strangers and unleashed more anger and frustration than in any other election in recent memory.
So how do you deal with all this election anxiety? Experts say you have to give yourself permission to take a break from all these stressors and focus on your health.
“One of the key factors in reducing stress is exercise. People are not exercising as much as they could. Just simple going out and walking twenty or thirty minutes a day helps lower the stress,” said Oklahoma Psychologist Gilbert Sanders.
He says Oklahomans have a tendency to discuss politics quite a bit. It’s the nature in which we have been raised. The problem is letting the politics and news coverage completely consume us.
“We need to kind of watch and slow down the quantity of news that we do watch. We need to vary the type of exposure to the news. A lot of our news from social media is not correct. It’s more rumor than factual. Vary the sources of how we collect our information. Realize that we can certainly take a break from it. Slow it down and realize that while we are engaged in the process-we need not to be consumed by the process,” said Sanders.
We can also increase our anxiety by posting and responding to posts on Facebook and social media. It’s always a good idea to think before you post something online.
“Taking some time before posting is a very wise idea. My grandmother was a very wise person. She said always think twice before you speak once. I think maybe at this particular time-we may need to think three times before we post once. Slow it down and give it time. Think about how this is going to be received. A lot of time we are answering from emotion and not from how we’ve actually thought the process completely through,” said Sanders.
Another tip for reducing stress is getting plenty of sleep. You have to get enough rest to effectively fight stress and anxiety.
“Each person should get adequate amounts of sleep. Sleep is a key factor in stress reduction. It’s also an absolute key factor in overall health. We know from research that individuals who get less than seven hours sleep per night are much more prone to being susceptible to stress. That effects the overall health. The entire body basically reacts to that,” said Sanders.
“The other thing is watching our overall weight. Especially with COVID. We’ve been really eating a lot more food at home. We’ve been eating a lot of junk food and putting on weight. Those are some basic things that can be done very simply. And can be incorporated pretty easily into an overall health regime that should be followed by almost everyone,” he said.
In some instances you may need to seek out professional help. Especially if friends and family are noticing significant changes in your regular behavior. You don’t want to get defensive. Just take a step back and analyze what they are saying.
“A great source for contacting someone happens to be the Oklahoma Psychological Association. They can give you some pointers on how to look for a provider and where those providers may be available,” said Sanders.
The United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. That just happens to be my birthday. Wow! That might be a stressful birthday.
We just have to remember the experts advice. Don’t let it consume us. Take a break. Get some exercise, get some rest, and get a slice of cake. Or something like that.
“It’s so very important. If you don’t have your health-you’re not getting everything you can out of life. That’s just the way it is,” said Sanders.