Handling Stress and Anxiety During the Election

If there is anything that we can agree on during this time it is that this year has been incredibly unpredictable and exceptionally stressful. Now with the added stress of a presidential election, according to the American Psychological Association’s latest survey, nearly 70% of adults said the election is a significant source of stress. We wanted to check in on our Special Olympics Maryland family and make sure you’re all taking care of yourself during this time. Check out the following tips to help handle any stress or anxiety you may be having during this time. 

1. Recognize Your Stress

Stress can manifest itself in many different ways and it is different for every person. Sometimes you will feel it just mentally while others can actually find themselves having physical side effects. You might find yourself biting your nails, eating a lot or not having an appetite, headaches, or a heaviness on your neck or shoulders. You may also have feelings of sadness, disappointment, grief, fear and even mourning if your candidate loses. ALL of these reactions are completely normal to be feeling especially during these unprecedented times. The first step is to acknowledge the feelings you are having and give yourself a break; let yourself know that it is okay to be having these feelings and symptoms, and acknowledge that they exist. We can then take this built up energy and channel this stress into something productive, creating a good thing out of something negative. 

2. Look Away

In the last couple of days, you may have found yourself continually refreshing your feeds and looking at your phone or other devices for results from this election. Did you know that this can actually cause you to have more stress and anxiety? So one tidbit of advice that seems to help the most with growing stress and anxiety, is to look away from these devices, turn them off, leave them in another room. Whether you are constantly refreshing your feed on your phone or your computer…STOP. Put it away, you will be surprised how you may feel after you shut off your electronics for 15 minutes. You will start to feel immediate relief. Keep them shut off for as long as you can, or at least away from the results.

3. Take a Break

There are many different ways that you can distract yourself while you are avoiding these stress triggers. There are some relaxing ways that you can take a break; in fact, our Virtual Movement site is a great way to find positive distractions (just make sure you stay off those polling sites). Participate in some deep breathing exercises or maybe some meditation and yoga. Try to focus on things that aren’t relating to your stress, how about a gratitude test? List things that are positive and things you are grateful for NOT those things that are stressing you out. These are all peaceful ways for you to try and relieve these feelings, or maybe you like relieving your stress in a more physical manner. Find some exercises or workouts that you like to do that will release some of that built-up stress. Another easy way to distract yourself is to go for a quick walk. You should all be pros at taking your walks with our 50 for 50 and Virtual Torch Run walking challenges behind us, so go ahead, grab a jacket and head out for a nice leisure stroll. Be sure to focus on your environment and what you are doing and try not to think about the things that may be causing you anxiety during this time.

4. Try Not to Worry About the Unknown

Try not to worry. Easier said than done, we know. We all have to acknowledge that we did our part and now we just have to wait. We have no control over this outcome and no way of changing it now, so let’s try not to worry about the unknown. Try to only focus on the things you can control. You can’t control the outcome of the election, but you can control your behavior!

5. Find the Thing That Works for You

As we mentioned before everyone experiences stress and anxiety differently and that means that everyone has to find their own unique way of making themselves feel better. There is no turn-key approach that works for everyone so why don’t you try out a few of these tips and see what is working best for you!

We hope that this article has given you methods and processes that you can take with you to not only handle stress right now but any time that you start feeling these symptoms. Take a breath and a break and focus on yourself and feeling better. Stay healthy during this time, physically and mentally. Don’t forget to share with us on social what you are doing to handle your stress and anxiety during this time, maybe it will help someone else out too!