How to avoid Election Day stress, according to a therapist

Election Day is finally here. If you’re feeling extra tense, anxious, and stressed, you’re definitely not alone. Therapist Kati Morton shares her top tips on how we can protect our mental health on November 3rd and beyond.

Video Transcript

KATI MORTON: The one thing that we're all focusing on is the one thing we can't control, and that is the election itself. It's going to be OK. We'll live on to November 4. Just take some steps now to make sure that you are set up to feel your best as you roll through it.

Because we all will be at home, there are some things that we can do to make it just a little bit more calm. Think of the things that already soothe you now. Is that wearing comfy clothes? Is that having food prepared ahead of time, so we don't get hangry towards the end of the Election Day? Are there certain people that we have been quarantining with that are coming to us already? Either way this goes, we want to make sure that we're feeling our best.

In therapy we call it wise mind versus emotion mind. On Election Day, we're an emotion mind. It's not a good time to have difficult conversations. We have to wait until we're in wise mind when we feel good. And it's also fine to just talk about something has nothing to do with the election. We don't want to fight anymore, and today's definitely not the day.

Taking a break is really needed. There's only so much information we can take in at one time. We all know how the news cycle likes to just cycle through the same things in a different way. Watching it for 30 minutes and taking maybe an hour, two hours off I think is really key.

Voting can be a powerful thing. We get to feel like we've made a difference. But then we have to kind of sit back and wait to hear what the other voices were, and that can leave us feeling a little powerless. Take control back where you can. Maybe go for a quick little walk. Maybe we want to make something delicious to eat for dinner in the kitchen. Do we put on those comfy clothes? Or maybe we all stand up and shake it out, restart our system, help us feel better.

The true driver of anxiety is our thoughts. Let's notice what kind of conversation we're having with ourselves. Can we turn it into a more positive direction? Let's try to find ways to think of the positives, no matter what the outcome. Take a beat, recognize what we're telling ourselves, and try to move it in a more positive direction.

There's a cognitive behavioral tool that's called play it out. I want you to play out in your brain what the worst case scenario is. What could possibly happen? How would you feel? What would be taking place? Then I want you to take a minute, and I want you to play out the best case scenario. What's the best thing that you think could happen in this election?

And then, and this is going to be the most difficult, but the most important, is what's the most likely? I know we want to see it in black and white, but that's not really what it is. Just taking that time to kind of play it out takes away the fear. Once we've thought it out, we can have some other coping skills or people we're going to get together with and get upset about it.

It's OK to vent, and it's OK to have people to talk to about it. We need that now more than ever. Right now, social media and media in general wants to just pull us apart. Do your best to not get wrapped up in that. We're all more alike than we believe and than we realize. Know that we're going to be OK, and we will survive this.