COLORADO SPRINGS – Once November hits, it’s nearly impossible to escape the barrage of political ads and election talk.
But for some, there is a fine line between being an informed voter, and experiencing voter anxiety.
Nathan Mesnikoff is the Director of Spiritual Care at UCHealth Memorial, and he says keeping perspective is key. “I think one of the most important things is to realize you are not alone, a lot of people are feeling stressed about this election but we have to be careful not to buy too much into the hype. The country has been around 240 years or so we will survive this and you will be ok. You may not like the outcome of election, but we will get to make another choice in the next election.”
According to Scott Bea, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, the very nature of the electoral process can cause people to feel uneasy this time of year.
“One of the things that elections produce in us, is some tension and anxiety, because we have an interest in particular outcomes, and we perceive that we don’t have a whole lot of control over them, and that’s a great formula for tension in any atmosphere,” he said.
Dr. Bea said some people find themselves anxious about the actual voting process on Election Day.
With many candidates, and many issues to decide upon, as well as the confined space of a voting booth, some can feel pressured to get it done quickly, creating stress.
For those who find themselves getting overly worried about going to the polls, Dr. Bea suggests making a plan to vote by mail in the future.
Voting by mail allows people the time to do research and cast their ballot from the comfort of their own home.
However, the stress of Election Day doesn’t stop at the polls.
For people who feel uncomfortable talking about politics, Dr. Bea said it is okay to stand firm to keep yourself from getting pulled into a political discussion that you want no part of.
“You want to be direct if you find yourself increasingly uncomfortable,” he said. “You can say something simple such as, ‘You know, I prefer not to talk about politics,’ or, ‘I really like you; let’s not talk about politics.”
Dr. Bea said because we’re in a culture where the media is so present in our lives, it can be hard to ignore the political banter.
Finally, Nathan says if you’re stressed out, manage that stress. Exercise, spend time with friends, and watch your media intake. Stop listening to all the rhetoric and think about what you say in front of your kids, even if it’s in the privacy of your home.
“Saying things around our children like ‘our county will never survive this’, they may not have the context to realize what you’re talking about. It can really freak them out so we have to be thoughtful about that also.”
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