Some tips for managing campaign pain and the post-election blues
By Becca Muncy
With just a few days until Election Day, tensions may be running high around you. A new study from the American Psychological Association found that 68% of American adults, across all political affiliations, say that the election is a significant source of stress in their lives. So, if this election season has you feeling anxious, frustrated, or burnt out, you’re not alone. Here are some ways to manage election stress and fatigue now and on November 3:
- Set boundaries for yourself. Randal Boldt, Senior Associate Director, Training Director & Supervising Psychologist at the Baylor Counseling Center, says that the most important thing you can do to manage election stress is set boundaries. He says that, “caring about political outcomes is a healthy part of supporting a society,” but acknowledges that, “it can also be overwhelming at times.” Setting boundaries, like limiting your news consumption on Election Day, can help you from getting too overwhelmed.
- Find good news. In addition to setting boundaries around news consumption, seeking out good news can help, too. During an election season, it can seem like all the news is negative, inflammatory, or frustrating. Keeping up with current events is a good thing, but counterbalancing negative election news with inspiring and positive news might help keep you from getting too overwhelmed. Need help finding good news? Take a look at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine or the Solutions Journalism Network, or follow accounts like @goodnews_movement on social media.
No matter the outcome of the election, at least some people are going to experience disappointment if their chosen candidate loses the presidential race. And even if you are the coolest, calmest, and most collected you’ve ever been on Election Day, you can still feel grief over your candidate losing. Here are some ways to handle those negative feelings:
- Remember that disappointment is a normal thing. Boldt says acknowledging and facing your grief is important. This year may feel particularly stressful and the election may seem extra divisive, but remember that disappointment and grief are normal parts of life, no matter the circumstances. Acknowledging and naming your feelings of grief or disappointment is the first step of healing.
- Take a break or talk to someone. Allow yourself a break from your normal tasks, as you would if you were grieving anything else. Before Election Day, find a trusted person you can talk to and process your feelings with in case things don’t go your way.
- Find a way to move forward. Boldt says channeling your disappointment into action can be helpful. “Feelings of helplessness can be overwhelming, but after some healthy grieving… putting your emotion and energy into changing the future can be very healing.” Remember that there are still ways you can help those in your community, regardless of who is commander in chief.
Even if you are unhappy about the outcome of the election, that doesn’t diminish the fact that you participated and did your part to make your community better. Plus, the great thing about the U.S. election cycle is that you’ll have many more opportunities to participate in elections. From national to state to local government, from primaries to midterms and everything in between – there’s always next year!
Becca Muncy is an Act Locally intern from Dallas. She is studying professional writing at Baylor University and is completing her senior year.
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