Tips for Managing Election Anxiety

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Local therapists at Just Mind discuss “Pre-Election Stress Disorder” and how it can be alleviated with simple techniques.

In advance of the election next Tuesday, a group of Austin therapists are offering tips for managing “election anxiety." Just Mind therapists have noticed an increase in clients who report distress related to the election and this is likely to increase as election day gets closer.

“A lot more of our clients, even clients who previously weren’t coming to therapy for help managing anxiety, have reported worrying about the election to a degree that it’s actually interfering with their lives,” said William Schroeder, licensed counselor. “Many people are really frightened. And while there may not be a lot individuals can do about the outcome of the election, there are basic techniques anyone can use to deal with elevated anxiety.”

This phenomenon has been described by practitioners like Dr. Stephanie Smith, who refers to the underlying feelings of worry, preoccupation with campaign coverage, and feelings of extreme fatigue as “Pre-Election Stress Disorder.”

“Anxiety is a complex set of symptoms that are different for each person. For many people, simply being more disciplined about avoiding election-related news – turning off the TV & Facebook – will be the best coping strategy,” said Teri Schroeder. “But there are other techniques that Austinites might consider as well.”

Exercise Until Nov. 8th. If you’re noticing more election-related stress, it might be a good idea to create more opportunities for exercise until Nov. 8th. Many studies have found regular exercise to be the single most effective anti-anxiety remedy.

Take Walking Breaks. Some studies have shown that a 10-minute walk can be just as effective at alleviating anxiety as a 45-minute workout. Particularly for people who are confined to an office for much of the day – where election related chatter around the water cooler might exacerbate anxiety symptoms – it might be easiest to take a short walk to breathe, reflect and let go of tension you may be holding.

Cut the Coffee, For Now. Stimulants like coffee often exacerbate anxiety symptoms. If you’re having trouble with an increase in election related information in your environment, you may want to decrease intake of stimulants like coffee.

Find a Way to Access Humor Believe it or not, humor is an effective way to cope with fear-related anxiety. Some Just Mind clients have found success giving themselves outlets like the Political Humor page.

Feel & Express Your Feelings. Denying or trying to minimize feelings of fear and anxiety can often even further interfere with daily functioning for people who are experiencing those symptoms. Instead, it’s important to allow yourself to express those feelings; for anxiety-related symptoms, however, this has been found to be most effective alongside talk therapy with a licensed clinician.

Just Mind therapists can also speak to their experiences of working with clients experiencing election anxiety. Just Mind is a center of excellence focused on providing comprehensive psychological care to adults, couples, teenagers and children. JustMind.org

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William Schroeder, MA, LPC, NCC
Just Mind
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