I am writing this article in response to several publications recently about how elections are affecting people’s health.
NPR recently posted an article on election stress. The New York Times also posted a recent article on how people are suffering from health problems because of the election and its potential outcome. According to a survey from the American psychological Association, nearly 70% of respondent say the elections are a significant source of stress. Majority are worried about the country’s future. This is happening with both parties, Democrats and Republicans.
I have been through many election cycles and one thing was very common regardless of the outcome. The sky remained blue. This sun still came up. There was no red sky with evil black clouds rolling in as you would see in several horror movies. I still had to wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom, take a shower, and go about my normal day’s routine. I did not lose my job immediately after the election, nor did I notice any change in the way I interacted with my family, friends, and colleagues.
I imagine this being the same for many people, post-election or even prior to the election. I realize that many people are heavily invested in their candidates either as volunteers in the election process or as interested citizens. However, whoever we elect, it is important to root for their success and not their failures. With our current divided country, there will be about 50% who will be happy with the outcome and the other 50% who are upset with the outcome. Of course there is a variance here of approximately ±10%, but I am not trying to be scientific or data exact here so long as you get my point.
So let us take a healthy look at how to cope with whatever election outcome there may be.
Here are some tips I think would be very helpful for you as the election proceeds.
1) Maintain Your Routine. There is no reason to alter it. Do what you do best. Only change habits that are negatively affecting your life.
2) Take a Break from the Media. This includes social media and main stream media. There will be a lot of talking heads giving their two cents on the outcome of the election. Many will be strongly opinionated and can trigger more anxiety than calming fears.
3) Divert Your Attention. There are too many other things to do in the world that are just as worthy of your attention. Learning a new skill, communicating with those close to you, tending to your garden, or reading a book.
4) Realize that no elected candidate will be able to pay specific attention to you. It is easy to become emotionally attached to candidates as we learn more about their life and their plans for the future. But odds are, they do not know who the hell you are (unless, of course, you are a huge donor). A good example is health. No matter the health policy proposed or implemented, the universal health message does not change by taking accountability of your own diet, exercise and well-being. You need to pay attention to yourself and take accountability for your own actions and not rely solely on the government or a political party. Medical advice will not change regardless of political party (Hint: Masks).
5) If the election does not go your way, live on to fight another day but be gracious in defeat. Elections are very cyclical and usually change parties frequently, so hope remains. Even if there is a clean sweep with a red wave or blue wave, we have clearly seen internal discord within parties such as the progressive or the tea party groups. So there may still be political stalemates ahead. Regardless, your grass roots efforts can make a difference. Balance your time, however, with time for yourself and your family.
6) If the election goes your way, be humbly gracious in your party’s victory. Don’t gloat or rub it in. That only creates more resentment on the other side and is a higher motivating factor down the road. It further divides people, rather than bringing people together.
7) Be thankful that you live in a country that allows for free elections. It is easy to take for granted. Despite the dialogue and heated debates, we are still one free nation and society. There are many countries who do not have this privilege and live under dictatorships.