Election-Day Anxiety Is Real

So here’s how to chill the eff out before tonight’s presidential race results.

By: Noah Lehava

Today is the day. Dun, dun, dunnnn. When our blood pressure skyrockets to an unprecedented high and every. single. conversation. (as if it didn’t already) revolves around the impending election results—to be revealed in a few short hours. The day when all of the year’s political drama comes to a final, unavoidable head. It’s the sort of monumental collective decision that influences the next four years (nay, foreseeable future) of America and the world. In short, it’s a BFD. And if it hasn’t already, it’s going to make you (and us) spiral out into an anxious mess. Especially if the results aren’t in our favor.

Here to help us avert (or, at the very least, minimize) the gargantuan lump forming in our throats as we watch the numbers roll in, psychotherapist Dr. Deborah Sandella gave us a few tips to help us calm the eff down. Note: this is good for post-results, too.

 

The Fear of The Unknown

 
“There are statistics out from [the] American Psychological Association—and various other agencies have taken polls, as well—that say around half of Americans are anxious about the election and have found it stressful. Anxiety is the fear of the unknown. When people feel more helpless and feel like they don’t have control over their lives, that, of course, increases anxiety. When we get scared, if we don’t take action to express ourselves or to move in a way that feels supportive of ourselves, the cortisol turns inward on the body. When that happens, you begin to get stress symptoms—headaches, stomach aches,  and anxiety. We want to interrupt that and stop it from becoming a chronic condition.”

 

Turn Away

 
“What is really important [if you’re experiencing anxiety], particularly before the election, is to turn your attention away from the constant comments—you’ll get riled up by things that may be outside of [y]our control. The more we are in an agitated state for long periods of time, the more it’s unhealthy. Be very aware of what you’re feeling moment to moment to sense when you need to take a break. Step outside, walk around the house, or do whatever it is you need to do [to calm down].”

 

Be One With Nature

 
“Being in nature is of course a great way to deal with anxiety. There’s new research out on how being out in nature really helps us feel a sense of awe, and a sense of awe lowers blood pressure and increases the immune system. Those are the things that nurture us.

 

Take A Bath

 
“When you are feeling anxious about something that you really don’t have control over, take time to do something that is soothing. For some people that may be taking a bubble bath, for some people it may be to meditate.”

 

Express Yourself

 
“Talk about it with a friend who you know is like-minded. Whether you express it verbally, in written form, or physically, expressing stress really helps us modulate it. We can control what we have control over—it empowers us and decreases a sense of anxiety.”

 

Creating Boundaries

 
“Through imagination we can create a boundary. Start to create a boundary between you and that which scares you. You could call it a field of protection. One of the things we can do is to imagine a big red X over things that feel scary, like headlines. We want to be a guardian for our own attention when it comes to what we let in and what we focus on. So, if we focus on the fear, it’s going to increase anxiety. If we choose to put our attention in areas that empower us, or to read the articles that empower us, that will help.”

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