In a survey by the American Psychological Association, more than half of US adults (56%) reported significant stress related to the 2020 presidential election.
It is not surprising that this percentage was an increase over the 2016 election (52% reported election-related stress).
And it is not surprising that so many people feel anxiety about the election.
It is surprising that these survey results about this election were reported one year ago. Even then, people had a palpable sense of unease about this election.
That percentage is likely higher now. And you’re probably experiencing it, too, especially if you’re reading an article on how to cure it!
So, let’s get right to the solutions. Here are four quick cures for Election Anxiety:
CURE #1: Get Closure
By the time you read this, the election may be over. The conclusion will lower anxiety all by itself. That’s because a major component of anxiety is apprehension about future events over which we have little or no control.
Many people report that the end of something they’ve been worrying about relieves that worry, because now they know. One way or the other. It closes the loop in your mind and allows you to move on and use that energy for other things.
If you want to make it more personally meaningful, write a note to yourself that the “loop is closed,” why that helps you move on, and what new goals or activities you can pursue with the energy that was tied up before with the election.
CURE #2: Do a News Fast
There’s an old journalism axiom: “If it bleeds, it leads.” News directors and editors know people will read out of curiosity – and fear – about shootings, stabbings, and other bad things. Although traumatic headlines get attention, they are also upsetting to read. That is true even if the negative event isn’t directly relevant to you. To combat that, many people stop anxiety at the source: They avoid the news altogether.
You don’t need to go “cold turkey” and never glance at another headline. Consider taking brief news fasts – a few hours at a time. And then doing a half-day news fast, then a full day, and so on. If you find less news means less anxiety, keep the fast going!
CURE #3: Revisit Your Values
Although current events change, your values don’t. So clearly identifying your values – or revisiting them if you haven’t thought about them in a while – can help anchor you to what really matters to you. And that has a centering and calming effect.
If you have already done an exercise in the past to identify what your core values are, take it out and review it.
If you haven’t thought about values lately, create a list of the principles that are most important to you. Typical categories are Family, Faith, Honesty, Financial Security, and Helping Others. The “core” values are the ones that haven’t changed over time and which you wouldn’t compromise.
CURE #4: Take Action
A graduate school professor of mine once said, “Activity is the antidote to anxiety.” It’s not just an aphorism; the reason it’s true is that in a state of anxiety or stress, the part of the brain that responds to threats is preparing the body to take action to either fight off the threat or run away from it (what you have likely heard of as the “flight/fight” response).
Taking action has a few important benefits: First, it discharges the pent up energy or worrying about something. That’s true even if the action is not related to the source of the stressor. Second, taking action is something we have complete control over. And focusing on what you can control is important for reducing stress and worry. Finally, taking action that is aligned with your values – like volunteering to help with a local charity – can help drive changes you want to see in the world.
Any one of these cures can help lower your anxiety, so picking even one to try today can be effective. All four are a powerful combination!
If you want to discuss more ideas for managing stress and becoming more resilient yourself, for your team, or for your entire organization, we have individual and team programs available now. To learn more, send us a note here: https://www.weimanconsulting.com/contact-us/
And if you have any cures of your own to share, please comment below.