Many Americans are experiencing significant amounts of stress over this year’s Presidential Election.
Election stress is real and becomes aggravated by the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counter claims, arguments (sometimes hostile) with co-workers, friends, and relatives, not to mention an avalanche of fear-based graphics on social media.
So, what do you do if you find yourself battling election related stress, depression, or anxiety?
1. You can give yourself a “digital break” and turn off the news feed for a day or two to give yourself a breather.
2. Remind yourself the election will be over soon.
3. Recognize that the amount of stress you experience is directly related to how far away your expectations and hopes are from reality.
For example, let’s say you want your favorite candidate to win. You think this is the best choice and want this for our country.
Hopefully your candidate will be victorious. But if they aren’t it doesn’t mean our nation is doomed and you need to head for the hills. You may not like the situation, but you can accept it. Remember you have survived many disappointments in your life and you will survive this too.
If that’s not a realistic expectation, then let yourself off the hook.
You’re not going to be satisfied with the election outcome: that’s okay too!
You may not like it, but you can accept it.
Take a look at the graphics above. One circle is expectations and one circle is reality. If they are very far apart from each other, the space in between is the amount of stress you will experience. And stress is involved in both depression and anxiety. If you can adjust your expectations (It’s easier than adjusting reality), and bring that circle closer to reality, your stress level will go down.
If you want to live peacefully, and get rid of as much stress and anxiety as you can, bring your expectations circle so close to reality that they interlock. Now, live in that space as much as possible. There are other things that can help with depression and anxiety, but adjusting your expectations so they are as close to reality as possible is one of the most important things you can do.
You are not “settling”! You don’t have to like reality. But if you can practice accepting reality, and adjusting your expectations, you can experience more peace, and surprisingly, more joy.