Elections and Mental health

In the months leading up to the election, a 2019 survey of 3,617 participants showed that 45% of U.S. adults identified the 2020 presidential election as a significant stressor vs. 52% of adults who reported the 2016 presidential election as a significant source of stress (1).

As of summer, 2020, 77% Democrat and 62% of Republican survey participants identified the current political climate as a significant source of stress in their life. (2)

As the presidential election nears, it is possible this number is even higher.

What are some strategies to manage election related stress?

The American Psychological Association (3) offers the following strategies:

  • Stay informed, but know your limits (3):
    • Monitor how you feel after news consumption. Preoccupation with national events, interference with your daily life, may be a sign to cut back on your news intake and limit social media discussions.
    • Consider scheduling a short block of time in the morning and one in the evening to catch up on news without checking for every new update during the day.
    • During “digital breaks,” take time to focus on something enjoyable, such as a hobby, exercising, or spending time with family and friends.
  • Find commonalities with others (3):
    • If political differences arise with others, instead of heated discussions, consider hearing the other person’s story and look for commonalties within your views.
    • (Respectfully validating someone else does not mean you have to agree with them).
    • If calm and constructive conversation is difficult, it may be best to disengage from the conversation.
  • Find meaningful ways to get involved in your community (3):
    • This could be through local organizations, city council or town hall meetings, local politics, etc. Sometimes, taking active steps to address your concerns can lessen feelings of stress.
  • Seek solace (3):
  • Take care of yourself (3):
    • Exercise
    • Listen to your favorite music.
    • Spend time with close family and friends.
    • Prioritize getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods.
    • Avoid ineffective coping mechanisms such as alcohol and substances use.

Other thoughts:

  • Consider implementing healthy coping strategies that helped you cope with past stressful times in your life.
  • Try new healthy coping strategies mentioned above.
  • If you have difficulties despite these strategies: Go to our mental health support options page: https://ccs.osu.edu/mental-health-support-options/

By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. American Psychological Association (2019). Stress in America: Stress and Current Events. Stress in America™ Survey. Accessed August 2019.
  2. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/stress-in-america-covid-july.pdf
  3. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress-political-change

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