Are you dealing with election anxiety?

Posted on September 28, 2020
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Dr. Friedemann explains election anxiety

Are you worried about the upcoming election? Afraid about the future of our democracy and the direction our country is heading? Probably more than ever before, this year's presidential  election stirs up strong emotions in most people. Some talk about "Saving the Soul of America", while others insist that it is time to "Make America Great-Again". The last four years have divided the country in unimaginable ways. Differences in political convictions have led to families and friendships falling apart.

Contradicting information in the media, misconstrued stories, alternative realities, and blatant lies have sowed doubt and confusion that has become our new normal. Fear-mongering on what will happen if the other side wins creates a toxic mixture of anxiety, anger, and overload.

Now, no matter which candidate you support, less than 40 days before the election, you are probably worried and concerned about what will happen if your candidate doesn't win-the potential consequences for the economy, the environment, the relationship with the rest of the world, and so on. As the anxiety is mounting, you may feel increasingly powerless and out of control.  So what can you do, besides casting your vote? 

Here are some things you can do if you are dealing with election anxiety: 

  • Start with a good dose of self-compassion. It is entirely normal that you may feel anxious and stressed during this time. Rather than attacking yourself for your emotions, accept that you have been triggered by what has been unfolding on the political stage. Self-compassion stops an energy-draining cycle, where your mind has to protect itself from your own judgment and negativity.
  • Stop your news binge. Commit, like you may have done with your children, to limit your screen time to just one hour per day. It is a misconception that the more you know, the calmer you will feel. The fact is that your mind can only compute a limited amount of input before it gets overwhelmed and confused.
  • Shield yourself from negativity. Part of your anxiety may be due to the intense emotions of others, which your subconscious mind absorbs in an osmosis-like fashion. You may also deal with Uncle Bill, who exudes anger and resentment when he talks about the election, or your friend Mary, who predicts that the sky will fall if her candidate should lose. Limiting your exposure to people who are run by their emotions, can help you to stay more grounded and centered within.
  • Dare to dream. We often avoid imagining the outcome we prefer out of fear of getting disappointed. Instead, we are bracing ourselves for what we don't want because we believe that this will get us ready to deal with it. However, from the perspective of the subconscious mind, we are only adding fuel to the fire. Since the subconscious doesn't distinguish between reality and fiction, our mind experiences trauma every time we consider the horrendous consequences should our candidate lose. Conversely, envisioning our dream outcome has a relaxing and uplifting effect on our mind, which ultimately makes it stronger and more capable of handling whatever future we may be facing.
  • Access your inner resources for resilience. How? You will find out more on the upcoming episode of Empowerment Radio.

Join me this Thursday, October 1st at Noon ET / 9 AM PT (or tune in on Facebook Live) to share your thoughts and feelings and to learn practical tools on how to stay calm and centered during this pivotal time in our history.