Election Day is here and has undoubtedly brought stress, fear, and anxiety along with it. It is reported that around ⅔ of American adults are facing heightened stress and anxiety about the 2020 Presidential election. Many Americans are facing anxiety related to who the next President will be and others are dealing with anxiety related to the increasing political divisiveness and upheaval after the election. The truth is almost every American will tell you that they want the best for our country, but what that looks like and how we as a nation get there varies widely from one person to the next. When the votes are in, many Americans will be elated and many others will feel hurt and angry. So, how do we deal with the anxiety, concerns, and fears surrounding this critical time in our country?
- Awareness of the Situation – Oftentimes, when we are hurt or confused, we do not want to deal with our emotions and we bury them. When emotions are stuffed down, they often come out in the form of an angry outburst or a snap at someone. Sometimes these suppressed emotions can even make us feel physically sick. It is important to take some time to help yourself become aware of the situation at hand. Take note of how you feel about the election. Maybe you have strong, negative feelings about a particular candidate or even a family member who is voting a certain way. Perhaps you just feel upset by how divided everyone seems right now. Becoming aware of and acknowledging your feelings about the situation will greatly help you to deal with them. Then, do something to help release some of those emotions. Journaling can be extremely helpful in releasing emotion, as can exercising. It is okay to have a lot of emotions surrounding this election. Just be sure that you are taking time to become aware of them so that you can deal with them in a healthy way.
- Acknowledgement of Thoughts – When our emotions are heightened, we can easily begin having distorted thoughts. Distorted thoughts are thoughts that are irrational and not grounded in the truth. For example, some people might say, “If this candidate wins the election, then it’s doomsday for our country.” The truth is, this is simply not true. If said candidate wins, life will go on, and you will still be able to speak out on policies that are important to you. Doomsday has not come. On the other hand, you may think, “If a certain candidate wins, then everything will be right in the world.” This is another example of an irrational thought. The election of a certain candidate will not ensure that everything will be wonderful moving forward. What is rational thinking is that political changes take time, and policies can still be affected on local and state levels in many cases, regardless of who is in the White House. Take note of thoughts you are having that may be distorted. Talk to friends, colleagues, pastors, and mentors that you trust and work to fill your mind with true and rational thoughts to help keep your emotions grounded.
- Accept the Outcome – Acceptance of reality can be hard, but acceptance is imperative for moving on with life in the midst of hardship. You may be very angry and upset about the outcome of the election. It is perfectly normal and okay to feel this way if your preferred candidate loses. However, at some point, you must accept the outcome and move forward. Living in anger about the results or living in anger towards those who voted differently than you is hurtful to yourself and others. It is important for us to accept others, regardless of their political preferences. Diversity is what makes our country a beautiful and appealing place, and we must practice embracing this, even when things may not go our way. Accept the people in your life, even if their candidate wins and yours does not. Remember that people come from many different backgrounds and experiences that have shaped their political views. Practice love and acceptance for your friends and family members, and use this as an opportunity to love them and seek to understand them. The quicker you can learn to practice acceptance in your life, the quicker you can move forward. No matter who wins this election, you still have an important voice in our country and have the freedom to speak out on and champion the issues and policies that are important to you.
After the election is said and done, the counselors at Waters Edge Counseling will continue to be here for you. If your stress and anxiety is overwhelming you and affecting your day to day life, then please call us at 912-319-5552. We are here for you and would love to help!