The other day, I wrote an article about Pre-Election Stress Disorder, in which I described the symptoms and signs of the diagnosis*. While not a real psychiatric disorder, stress, worry, and anxiety around election day are very real. The constant ads, news, and other messages may be exciting for some, but for others it can all become too much. If you have symptoms of PESD, don’t worry – there are things you can do to cope over the next two weeks of political bombardment – and they don’t include moving to another country! Some tips:
Turn it off. Remember the good old days when the news was only on TV a couple of times a day and the newspapers were read just once in the morning? While our constant access to “breaking news” – via TV, internet, Facebook, etc – can be interesting, it certainly doesn’t do much for one’s level of anxiety. News outlets would have us believe that in order to be an informed citizen, we need to check in several times per day, however, this is rarely the case. Even in our fast-paced world, news doesn’t typically happen at break-neck speed. With that in mind, it can be beneficial to have a set time to get the election (and other) updates once or twice per day. Other than that, keep the TV, websites, newspapers turned off.
Remember what’s important. Not to say that national politics are not important, but keep in mind that they do not transcend all of the other things in your life and/or community. Maintaining your health, relationships, professional life and hobbies are all important – don’t abandon them or forget about the real, day-to-day influence they have on your life. Keeping in mind all the things that make your life your own, can help in remembering that the presidential election – no matter the outcome – is just one small piece of the puzzle that makes up your life.
Do what you can, leave behind what you can’t. Here are some things we can do to affect change in our political system:
- work with a political campaign by knocking on doors, putting up yard signs, raising money
- donate money
- attend caucuses, rallies, etc
- write to elected officials, visit their offices, etc
- run for political office ourselves
Here are some things that do not affect change in our political system:
- watch and read election/political coverage for hours each day
- agonize over the fate of the election
- threaten to move to another country if the election doesn’t go our way
- give more weight to the election than it is due
- fight and argue over who is right and who is wrong
Good luck managing over the next couple of weeks!
*Disclaimer: I made up Pre-Election Stress Disorder – it is not a real psychiatric diagnosis. However, the stress, worry, and anxiety that folks feel around this time every 4 years is very real. If worry and anxiety about this (or other) issues are negatively affecting you, please contact your health care provider.