5 Surprising Ways to Combat Stress during Election Week

Anxiety on election day in Los Angeles

Stress and anxiety are two of the top reasons that people come to me for therapy.

The current political climate has been adding to the emotional burden, and many of us fear for the future of our country, our children, and our planet. Many families are divided across political lines or have complex ideological differences.

 Now we’re less than a week away from election day, and emotions are running high.

Here are 5 ways to manage your anxiety during the upcoming election period:

 1. Put On Your Own Mask First.

Voting in Los Angeles

First and foremost, we need to take care of ourselves. Without good self-care, we won’t be equipped to manage our emotions in any area, let alone when discussing election issues! Self-care refers to putting yourself first when it comes to the demands of clients, friends, family, and life in general. Here are some specific suggestions:

Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your emotional well-being. It’s simple, but not easy. In this day and age, you have to really commit to making sleep a priority in order for it to actually happen. Commit now.

Give yourself permission to say “No” when you need to. For example: though I am always tempted to agree with whatever requests friends, clients and colleagues make for my time, I am often pleasantly surprised when they completely understand that I don’t want to overschedule myself. Family members sometimes take longer to understand, but if we don’t learn to hold our own boundaries, certainly no one else will!

2. Be Honest

Are you a registered Democrat or Republican in Los Angeles?

Much has been said in the national dialogue about Truth, Honesty, and Fake News. Whether we are republican or democrat, we need to be honest about who we are and what we stand for if we want to sustain any sense of an authentic self. Let’s model honesty, teach honesty to our children, and let those around us feel safe being honest too. We don’t all have to have the same personal values, but being honest with one’s self should be near the top of every list. Without that, none of the other values really make any sense. Being true to yourself eliminates the tremendous amount of energy and anxiety required to be someone you think someone else wants you to be.

3. Learn to Apologize

Part of being honest (see above) is admitting when you screw up. Again, these days we are sorely lacking in public models of apologizing. If you can model an honorable apology for even one person in your life, you will have changed the world for the better. Think about it, how often do you really receive an authentic apology? I’d be willing to bet that when you do receive one, it improves both your day and your belief in humanity. I still smile when I think about the sincere apology I received some 7 years ago for an offense that occurred at least 7 years before that. The offense was severe, but the apology was so sincere that the apology is the part I remember best. It makes me feel seen and valued, and I want to be able to do the same for someone that I have wronged, as well. Harriet Lerner’s excellent book, Why Won’t You Apologize is a terrific study of this process. For a brief review of her concepts you can read this article on how to apologize. Again, an honest apology can release a significant amount of stress and negative energy from our psyche.

4. Volunteer

Volunteering in Los Angeles

Volunteering is an effective way to combat the feeling of helplessness that can result from watching the news. It’s also a great way to make a difference in your community and even in the world at large (especially if you volunteer to help people get out and vote next Tuesday!). We know that people who volunteer not only make a difference to others, they also increase their own happiness. Helping others is one of the best ways to feel a sense of agency in our tumultuous times. It’s a win-win!

5. Be Kind

Volunteer in Los Angeles

Even if you aren’t able to get a good night’s sleep, have no reason to apologize for anything, and haven’t got the time to volunteer, you can make a difference in the world by spreading kindness. At the end of the day, if you are depressed or anxious about either your own life situation or the bigger picture of our changing world, read a chapter of a book like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series’ Random Acts of Kindness before you go to sleep. Dream of creating a better world for all of us.

Still wishing you had a little more help with your stress and anxiety?

working together for a common goal in Los Angeles

Therapy can help you learn to manage that overwhelmed feeling, or help you learn how to improve your relationship with your partner, friends and family—even if they vote for the other side! Give me a call at 323-999-1537, or shoot me an email at amy@thrivetherapyla.com and we'll set up a time for your free 20-30minute consultation, either on the phone or in my office, where we can discuss your specific situation and how therapy can help.