Election anxiety: the race is over but the anxiety continues
Election anxiety is not unheard of in the United States as we carry out the process of electing a President every four years. Political scientists will no doubt study the election of 2016 for many years to come. Americans in general were hoping that November 8th would end the fractious campaigns and alleviate much of the anxiety that the majority of Americans were experiencing during the election season. According to the American Psychological Association, 52% of Americans reported that the election was a significant source of anxiety and stress ( Unfortunately, for many Americans the aftermath of the election has only increased their feelings of anxiety.)
Some people have been left feeling depressed or afraid, others angry because they don’t feel that the democratic process is being respected. Many people are having adverse reactions not to the election itself but to the conflict they are witnessing between others over the election. It seems election anxiety has taken on many forms in the days following election day. One of the major sources of stress affecting people post-election is social media. The anonymity of the internet means that people allow their anger and their fear to override their better nature and their social graces. These fractures reverberate through friendships and families. I have personally seen more than one person threaten to “skip Thanksgiving!” All the while there are those individuals who just want everyone to get along. Friends and family member’s social media feeds become battlegrounds putting them in the uncomfortable position of feeling like they are stuck in the middle of a fight not of their choosing. Some individuals who grew up in divided, fractious homes may be triggered by all the fighting and negativity.
It may feel like the conflict is everywhere, at home, at work, and definitely on social media. How do Americans who feel particularly anxious, angry, or fearful cope in this time of continued political tension? These tips might help:
- Turn off the news. Continued exposure to the aftermath of the election on the news is likely to only increase your anxiety.
- Take a timeout from social media. We all know that social media is a sea of memes and misinformation. The compulsion to respond leads to conflict which generally results in everyone involved getting worked up, feeling more stressed, and ruminating on the “battle”.
- Understand that people have the right to their feelings. Yes, even when those feelings directly contradict your own. Every person has a unique lived experience which gives us all a unique perspective. The important thing to remember is that these unique perspectives are all valid.
- Check out these mindful strategies designed to reduce anxiety.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by election anxiety and find yourself without social support at this time you might consider speaking with a professional in order to process your feelings and find a safe place where you can feel supported and listened to.
Contact me today and let’s work together to find coping strategies for yourself and deal with possible conflicts during the coming holidays. Call me at (706) 534-8558 or e-mail at [email protected] to setup an appointment.