More than half of American adults report that this particularly contentious presidential election has a very or somewhat significant source of stress, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association. The association gives these tips for managing their election-related stress:
1. Limit your media consumption. "Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the newsfeed or take a digital break. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy."
2. Avoid getting into contentious discussions about the election. "Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the election with friends, family members or co-workers."
3. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference by, say, volunteering in the community or advocating for a cause you support. "Stress and anxiety about what might happen is not productive. Remember that in addition to the presidential election, there are state and local elections taking place in many parts of the country, providing more opportunities for civic involvement.
4. Take a proactive step by voting. "In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter. Find balanced information to learn about all the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), make informed decisions and wear your 'I voted' sticker with pride."
Jake Messing, director of behavioral health services for St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, gave these additional tips for handling anxiety:
5. "The best thing is to talk about it with somebody. Anxiety is far more powerful if we keep it on the inside rather than sharing it with the right kind of people."
6. "Albert Ellis, a very famous psychologist, had a great phrase: 'Is this a nuclear catastrophe?' One way we get anxiety levels up is to catastrophize things. You have to put things in a proper perspective. How will this impact me on a day-to-day basis?"
8. Don't consume chemicals like drugs, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine that will only make your anxiety worse in the long run.
9. "A simple technique for anxiety for deep breathing. When I see a basketball player at a free-throw line with two seconds left and the crowd screaming, the last thing he does before he shoots is take a very deep breath. Deep breathing slows us down."
10. Listen to soothing music.
11. Think of a calming place, like you're "floating down a stream on a nice, summer day, the sun warming your skin, a calm breeze blowing."