Less than 30 days out from one of the most divisive elections in American history, stress and anxiety around politics is an an all-time high. Yahoo Life Mental Health Contributor, Jen Harstein, says that it's important to become aware of how your mental health could be taking a toll this election season. "Even for those of us who have been part of many elections and voted many different times, this is something none of us have ever experienced," she says. Hartstein says one of the most important things you can do is create set times during the day to unplug. "We live in a 24 hour news cycle, and the news is coming at us all the time, and it's intense,” Hartstein explains. “That doesn't do such great things for our body's ability to calm down, reset and relax.” Setting boundaries with your family and friends may be necessary for the first time for many, which is an uncomfortable thing to cope with. “You have every right to set the limits that work for you, and if that doesn't work for all the people in your lives, figure out who it works for and stick with those people,” she says. “This is going to be a challenging two months for many, so you want to make sure that you are feeling OK and taking care of yourself the best way possible, even if that means limiting some conversations with other people.” While we cope with election stress, it's a good time to check back in with your values as a guide to live by, and to reset your self care routine so that you're approaching life with as much positivity as possible.
JEN HARSTEIN: The political climate right now is pretty tough. It's pretty divisive. There's a lot of unrest. In fact, one therapist coined the term election stress disorder, because we're all feeling overwhelmed. And the contagion of the emotion from one of us to the other is causing an increase in our general disregulation. And we're having a really hard time figuring out how to navigate the day to day amongst all of the stuff that's going on.
Even for those of us who have been part of many elections and voted many different times, this is something none of us have ever experienced-- the divisiveness of both the political parties. We have the ongoing issue of coronavirus. We have worries about mail-in ballots and voting in person.
We live in a 24-hour news cycle. And the news is coming at us all the time. And it's intense. And that doesn't do such great things for our body's ability to calm down, reset, and relax.
Maybe even set certain times of day that you check the news and don't check it other times. Your brain needs a break in order to be the best and most effective that it can be. Be sure to give yourself the time off that you need to feel refreshed and re-energized.
There's so many different opinions flying around. And disagreement is fine, as long as disagreement can be done in a healthy way. And when we talk about politics, we all know sometimes those conversations aren't always so productive.
So with our families, if we know we're trying to get together at such a challenging time already, maybe we set up some real times where politics are off the table. We do not discuss it, because we want to stay engaged and connected rather than separated and pushed apart. And don't be afraid to disagree and walk away.
You have every right to set the limits that work for you. And if that doesn't work for all the people in your lives, figure out who works for and stick with those people. This is going to be a challenging two months for many, so you want to make sure that you are feeling OK and taking care of yourself in the best way possible, even if that means limiting some conversations with other people.
Many people are feeling powerless at this time. It's not a time you have to feel entirely powerless, though. There are ways to get back the power. Figure out how to get involved. And figure out where, in fact, you can control different things.
Can you become a poll worker? Can you help register people to vote? Can you get behind your candidate and support them?
And while we're all feeling a lot of stress and anxiety, one of the most important things to do is live the life you want to live. Live life by your values, by your choices, and kind of guided by your own moralities.
It's an intense political climate as we head into the election. And it's important to note when that anxiety might be tipping into something more problematic. If you notice that you're feeling anxious more days than not, or maybe you're feeling more sad and depressed, it may be a really good time to try and reach out to someone for help.
Remind yourself, not everything is bad. So don't lose sight of the things that you do to take care of yourself. Engage in that self-care, even if you have to reset that routine.
Engage in things that bring you joy and enjoyment. Connect with the people that you love. And look for the good things. And make sure you engage in those as much as you focus on the news and the other things that could cause you some stress.