This type of stress and aggravation rears its ugly head every four years. The amount of anxiety that is produced from election season is incomparable. You are up late at night scrolling through Twitter or websites, trying to capture all of the information on who is in the lead. Pundits are sharing the latest news on who is in prime position to win, vulnerabilities that are present for candidates, and forecast who is going to hold office for the next four years.
And as you take it all in, you are left with a pit in your stomach. Your chest is tightening. Your head is spinning. Fear has taken hold of you. Anxiety is creeping up as thoughts of an uncontrollable future sink in. Maybe you struggle to go to sleep that night…or eat a pint of ice cream. I prefer the ice cream.
Election anxiety is a real thing. It can consume our attention and ruin any sense of peace that we hope or desire. You don’t want that. You want the peace. The peaceful you is a good you. So, here are three things that will help you find your peace and ditch the election anxiety during this season:
Tip #1 to Ditch the Election Anxiety — Less Rumination, More Activation:
Have you ever seen a cow eat? The cow grabs some grass in its mouth and chews…and chews…and chews…on the same bite of grass. It’s a long process.
The same thing often happens with our thoughts on the elections. The same thoughts and fears stick in our minds and we roll over the possibilities again…and again…and again. We ruminate on our fears and anxieties. We fear over the “what ifs” of an unforeseen future. Anger grabs hold of us whenever debating someone we are in disagreement with. The fear and anger gain power over us. And it happens before we even recognize it.
Instead of spending time ruminating on all the possible outcomes and allowing it to drive you into greater anxiety, get active in what you are doing. Get some exercise. Talk to a good friend about anything other than politics. Put on some music that soothes you. I written about things you can do when feeling anxiety in a blog post, Twelve Tools to Ease Anxiety.
Tip #2 to Ditch the Election Anxiety — Place Greater Focus on Yourself:
Election season pushes us to think so much about other people. What are other people thinking? How will other people be voting? Why are other people voting like that? We have no control over other people. None. Since you cannot control other people or how other people vote, spend time focusing on the things YOU can control. You cannot control every outcome of the election, but you can control in your participation of the outcome. You can educate yourself on local issues. You can vote. You can choose to volunteer in what you are passionate about. And you can participate in self-care. Here are some self-care ideas that I wrote about in a previous blog post that you can read by CLICKING HERE.
Tip #3 to Ditch the Election Anxiety — Control the Media/Don't Let the Media Control You:
Social media is such a great tool to interact with other people. It can also be a thief of peace. Like I wrote earlier, we have a tendency of being concerned with other people – and social media can trigger us like nothing else. So, before you post your next MEME, count to 10 and think about what kind of reaction you are going to get. Will that reaction bring you peace of mind or emotional peace? Is it really going to be good for YOU? Be the controller of what media you allow in. There are ways to “Hide” or “Silence” what is viewable in your social media feed. Take control of it – don’t let it control you.
Tip #4 to Ditch the Election Anxiety — Breath:
I will say this again…I am a huge fan of breathing. Those of us living in the United States tend to breath too quickly and far too shallow. Slowing our pace of breathing will help us relieve the symptoms of anxiety that has to do with the election. Take deep breaths by counting to five while breathing in, and then counting to seven while breathing out. Your heart rate will drop and your head will clear.
Pro Tip: Do it with your eyes closed and lying down…and you might even fall asleep. ;)
Tip #5 to Ditch the Election Anxiety — Live in the Now:
We desperately want to be able to predict the future. It’s amazing how much we rely on forecasts in the Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and the greater Portland Metro Area. In the winter, I know it’s most likely going to rain. I don’t know why I keep checking the future forecast multiple times a day. I just do.
We are uncomfortable with the unknown future and what the election will bring. The election is not until November 3rd. We won't know who wins the election until then, and possibly for some time after. That thought causes great anxiety. But if we focus on what we are doing today and live in the present rather than worry about what could happen in the future, we can find freedom from that anxiety. Meditation is a great way of centering yourself on today rather than being anxious over the unknowable tomorrow. Apps such as Calm, Headspace, MyLife, or Simple Habit can be great ways to regularly participate in guided meditation.
The election season can be a time that causes great anxiety. It can cause us great fear and anger. There are no simple solutions to what you may be feeling, but there are things that you can do to help ditch that election anxiety. And, of course, seeking professional counseling is also a good option if you discover that you could use some extra help. Here are some tips that may help you know When to Seek Counseling for Anxiety. And you can find out more about what is offered at Wellspace Counseling by going to www.wellspacepdx.com.
Wellspace Counseling is located in Tualatin, Oregon and serves Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and the Greater Portland Metro Area. To find more information about Wellspace Counseling, visit the at www.wellspacepdx.com.