Election season is here -- and it’s stressing out our friends, our family, and our colleagues. A recent study reported that more than half of Americans felt significantly stressed by the 2016 election. But this isn’t entirely surprising. For almost a year, Americans have watched political leaders argue their way through news conferences and debates, while the public has largely been left to ponder day-to-day realities like--
- How does this election affect my family?
- Is my job secure?
- What does this mean for my future?
- How will this impact my community?
- What will change in the current justice system?
While these kind of questions are not unique to this election cycle, what is unique is the ongoing denunciation that can make it challenging for people to feel hopeful and secure. Jodi Moss, Therapy Lead at Ginger.io says that feeling hopeful is a necessary emotion that people often rely on to get through more challenging periods in their lives. For example, just knowing that there is a light at the end of tunnel can be a great source of comfort during an uncertain time.
Of course this raises the question, how do you create an environment that becomes a source of comfort for you and your family during the remaining days of this election season. Jodi recommends the following:
Step 1: Put pen to paper
Take a few minutes each day to jot down your thoughts, feelings, fears, and worries. The act of jotting down thoughts can be a stress reliever in of itself. Writing out thoughts and emotions can help release the intensity of feelings and help you get more clarity.
Step 2: Communicate, communicate, communicate
Talk with your friends and family about how you’re feeling. One of the most common things our therapists hear is how reassuring it feels to know that you’re not the only one feeling a certain way. Talking with those you trust about your fears, hopes, and dreams can help you build a stronger sense of community and safety.
Step 3: Find your breath
Learning ways to observe your current thoughts and feelings can help you relax and slow down. One technique you might try is Mindfulness of Sound- an exercise designed to increase your awareness by focusing on your breath as well as your five senses (what you smell, hear, feel, taste and see).
Step 4. Get up, get active!
Getting regular exercise can have a really positive impact on your mood and body! Research has shown that exercise can help reduce stress, boost your energy levels, and promote mindfulness. Don’t know where to start? Try committing to 10-minute bouts of activity, two to three times a day for 5 days. Even these small increases in activity can make a difference.
5. Limit your media exposure
Election news is everywhere-- news sites, comedy shows, social media. Learning to limit how much election coverage you consume- or the sources that you consume new from- can help reduce your worries and stress. Rather take time during the day to focus on things that you can change, and that are more positive. This can include volunteering for a cause you are passionate about (politically or otherwise), or connecting with family, taking the dog out to play, or just listening to some music.
So if you’re one of the millions of Americans who is feeling stressed out by this election, don’t suffer in silence. The presidential candidates may have missed the mark on how people are feeling, but you don’t have to. Don't forget to vote - but make time today to take care of yourself.
Leanne Kaye, one of Ginger.io's clinical experts, has a Doctorate in behavior change, and a Masters in Public Health. She’s passionate about making the world a healthier place by helping others reach their best state of mental wellbeing. To learn more about Ginger.io’s team of experts, visit ginger.io/meet-your-care-team/
Jodi Moss has a Masters in Counseling Psychology/ Expressive Arts Therapy and believes that the start of a good therapeutic relationship is dependent on trust and fit. As Therapy Lead, Jodi works hard to ensure all Ginger.io members receive personalized, high-quality video care when they need it.