By Jamie Kirk
People are coping with several facets of life around the globe that, if we are not careful, could cause us to lose our minds. Continued racial injustice, continued social injustice, high unemployment numbers, housing challenges, small businesses being forced to close, and social distancing in full force. Oops, I almost forgot, we are in the eye of the storm regarding a full-on first wave pandemic, which has caused millions of people to have lost their lives worldwide. To summarize: shit is crazy.
Add to this laundry list the anxiety of the upcoming election on Nov 3. Two things, a) you can’t NOT know there is an upcoming election, due to the overwhelming posts on social media testifying that “I voted early,” “the line was only 15 minutes,” and “voting is my love language” and b) you can’t be undecided at this point, due to the extreme differences and platforms of the candidates. For many Americans, this upcoming contentious 2020 presidential election is only compounding unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety levels.
A recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association and Harris Poll revealed that 68% of American adults say that the upcoming U.S. presidential election is a primary source of stress in their life. By comparison, ahead of the 2016 election, only 52% of Americans said that the election was a “somewhat” significant stress source.
If you are part of the 68% of folks feeling a little overwhelmed in the time leading up to the election, here are some recommended pointers to help you cope.
Avoid Dwelling On Worst-Case Scenarios
Humans have evolved to avoid uncertain situations because the fear of the unknown tends to elicit negative emotions. Therefore, we have to avoid dwelling on things we can’t control. When uncertainty looms, it is sort of common to imagine the worst-case scenario. However, research has shown that ruminating or over-thinking repetitive thoughts or themes can actually impair thinking and problem-solving.
Cure: practice yoga or meditation.
Establish a Voting Plan
Just making a plan as to “how” you will vote. The candidates you will support. Making this mental note can help you gain control over your thoughts and prevent you from being overwhelmed. Having and maintaining this level of control and preparation will help you overcome any angst you have about supporting your chosen candidate.
Cure: decide before you arrive.
Rock the Vote and Rock the Day
The uncertainty about the election may not end on Election Day because, as we have seen in the past, the results will likely be delayed a bit due to the shift in the mail-in voting option. To that end, figure out something to do on Nov 3. Perhaps it’s offering rides to the polls, standing on the street corner with a sign, doesn’t matter, anything that will keep your mind occupied, but indirectly connected to this momentous day.
Cure: find someone or something to be a pleasant distraction.
Small Doses of Media Consumption
Who is up in the polls? What states leaned towards which candidate? What are the exit polls saying? Who is predicted to win the Senate, et cetera? It might be wise to take a break from social media and the news outlets if you find this causes you stress. For example, many people have been “doom scrolling,” a term used for endlessly scrolling social media platforms seeking out bad news.
Cure: set a timer for small doses of election result news.
Hopefully, these tidbits will help you deal with the upcoming days, weeks, and months to come regarding our nation’s future. We have to try and remain positive, hopeful, and faithful that the election results will place someone in charge of our great country that exhibits role model behavior, tenacity, strength, exhibits empathy, and truly understands that he serves the people of the United States of America and not the other way around. We have to believe this; we just have to.