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Daily Blessing, 17 Heshvan 5781/4 November 2020

“Jehovah bless you and keep you,
Jehovah make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you,
Jehovah lift up his countenance upon you and give you shalom.”
Numbers 6:24-26, NASB

How to Deal with Election Anxiety 
Written by Dr. Caroline Leaf, drleaf.com
No matter what country you are in, elections can cause a lot of anxiety, fear, sadness, disappointment, animosity and anger. Many believe their physical health has been harmed by an exposure to politics, with a significant percentage of people also reporting politics “has resulted in emotional costs and lost friendships” (2019 study). In fact, 68% of adult Americans report that the November 3 2020 elections are a significant source of stress (PRN). 

If you find that you are one of those people, below are some tips to help calm your mind and brain and make your physiological responses work for you and not against you. 

1. Choose who to engage with. You don’t have to respond to everyone and everything. It is okay to unfollow people who are aggressive on social media. 
2. Set a time, place and set of people you want to discuss politics with. Have definitive boundaries on conversations and how much media content you consume. 
3. Build fun into your daily routine. What makes you happy? This can be anything, from watching your favorite TV show, to baking a cake, to reading a novel—whatever works for you and gives your mind a break. 
4. Don’t invalidate or ignore your thoughts and feelings, or those of others (even if you disagree). Suppressing these thoughts and feelings will cause even more anxiety. Make room for negativity and ugly emotions and reactions. The next time you start to feel uncomfortable when dealing with politics, just allow the emotion to exist for a bit. Embrace it. Accept that you need to do this for your mental health. As you do this, the uncomfortable emotions will lose their power over you, while ignoring your election anxiety will only make things worse! But only do this for a limited time, and make sure you follow it up with 3 positive thoughts/actions, so you don’t feel drained by the negative. 
5. Choose to focus on what you can control, not what you can’t control. 
6. Speak to a loved one or therapist to help you process what you are dealing with and perhaps gain some perspective and possible ways of moving forward after the election. 
7. If things don’t go as planned after the election, remind yourself that disappointment is inevitable, but getting discouraged is always a choice. Remind yourself that:

a. “It happened, and now I need to figure out my next steps.”

b. “Disappointment happens to everyone, but it doesn’t’t have to stop me from moving on.”

c. “I’m disappointed, but who says that I have to wallow in it? I can do something differently right now to try change the outcome next time if I choose!”

8. Separate the person from their opinion or political ideas. Try see and connect with the human behind the opinion—find something you have in common. Try to see what you can learn from the conversation, not how you can win the argument.   

Remember: you can’t control events and circumstances in life BUT you can control your reactions and actions—even when it comes to something as challenging as politics! 
There is a lot to be anxious and worried about these days. From the uncertainty of a global pandemic, to turbulent elections, worldwide protests, and political infighting, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and fearful. These are normal human reactions to adverse events. The good news? We don’t have to be controlled by these feelings.

We can’t always control the circumstances of life, but we do have the power to control how these emotions impact us. In other words, we’re in charge of how we react when we’re suddenly faced with terrible news, or we read something on social media that induces panic.

In these moments, it’s useful to have a worry-reducing toolbox with simple, everyday strategies to help control your fears and anxiety. Having these practical techniques at hand can really help you in the moment, especially when you can’t think clearly or don’t know what to do with yourself.
Your Election Anxiety Is Valid: Here’s How You Can Plan For What Happens Next
For many people, there’s a lot of anxiety tied to the election ahead of us. Anxiety can often be linked to catastrophizing: You’re constantly assuming the worst is going to happen, when the worst-case scenario really isn’t that likely or likely wouldn’t be as bad as you’re envisioning. Anxiety can also be about control: When you’re faced with the reality that you can’t control what’s happening around you, fear gets triggered—and is often met with advice about “learning to be OK with uncertainty.”

But when it comes to elections, it’s important to acknowledge that many people’s lives may be actually, directly affected by the results. People’s access to necessary health care, their ability to protect themselves and their communities from violence and racism, their exposure to coastal destruction and food insecurity due to insufficient climate action—all of it and more can be dramatically affected by which leaders are elected on the local and federal level.

People’s lives really can be changed by elections. It’s not “just in their heads,” and it’s not something that will be made OK by simply paying less attention to it or “being OK with uncertainty.”

All to say: Your election anxiety is valid.

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