If you’re feeling stressed about upcoming elections, you’re not alone.
Political stress, the feeling of stress or anxiety related to elections, is common. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more than two-thirds of adults said the 2020 United States presidential election was a significant source of stress in their lives.
Navigating political strife with family and friends
Political views can divide people. Common advice is to set a rule of no political discussions with family or friends who hold different opinions in order to keep the peace. However, that isn’t always realistic, and some people won’t respect that rule.
It’s better to prepare for tense political discussions ahead of time just in case they happen. Consider the viewpoints of others —are they willing to change their beliefs or hear what you have to say? If so, a respectful conversation may be possible. If you sense that someone is just looking to argue, it’s okay to cut the conversation short by saying something like, “I don’t agree, but prefer not to talk about politics right now.”
If someone is expressing political values that are hateful or deny respect to certain groups, it may be helpful to talk more at length about what to do with a trusted mental health professional.
You can learn more about having tough conversations that bridge the political divide in Tania Israel’s book, Beyond Your Bubble.
Managing political stress
Political stress is likely to persist or resurface throughout your life, especially during election season, but there are ways to cope. Here are just a few:
- Know what triggers you. Avoid these situations or people when possible.
- Set limits on social media usage and media consumption. Scrolling for hours can heighten anxiety, but you also want to stay informed. The APA recommends scheduling short amounts of time to catch up. It’s also important to choose reliable news outlets.
- Get involved with causes you believe in. Activism can be empowering as you work to see the changes you want.
If political stress is interfering with your ability to carry on with day-to-day life, it may be time to talk to a professional. At Valley Oaks Health, we provide various resources to help you overcome the anxieties and stresses you’re facing.