How To STOP Negative/Stressful Thinking Once and For All
How to Handle Stress and Negativity During Election Season
Election season can be stressful and many mental health professionals report an increase in patients talking about anxiety resulting from elections. One therapist characterized this as “Election Stress Disorder.” Individuals are bombarded with information about each of the candidates, and attack ads and negative campaigning can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear. In order to handle the stress associated with an election cycle you should always practice self-care, think about the election and the possible outcome in a constructive way, and find ways to become active and engaged in civic life.
Practice self-compassion.If you are feeling anxious, scared, or nervous during an election season, you should not judge yourself or be critical of your emotions. Instead, you should practice self compassion self-compassion and accept your emotions. This will help you get in touch with what you are really feeling.
- For example, tell yourself “It is okay to feel nervous about the upcoming election. This is a completely normal emotional response.”
- Only when you accept your emotions can you begin to move past them.
Try meditation.If you find that the stress of the election is overwhelming, try practicing meditation. This will help you relax and clear your mind. Sit in a quiet room, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Try and clear your mind, or visualize a happy place, such as a beach.
- You can also try other relaxation techniques, such as yoga.
Talk about the election with like-minded people.You can also cope with the stress and fears concerning the election by talking about it with people who have similar views, including friends and family if you know they do not have conflicting opinions. Have an open and meaningful conversation about the election. This will help you work through your emotions. You can also find support and validation when you talk with like-minded individuals.
- Avoid talking about the election with people who will cause you additional stress. If your friends or family have drastically differing opinions on the election, it may be a better idea to let them know that you do not want to talk about politics or engage in debate.
Disconnect periodically.You may find that all of the news and media attention surrounding the election is overwhelming. To cope with election-based stress, try unplugging or disconnecting for a while. Turn off the push notifications on your phone so that information about the election doesn’t interrupt your daily activities. Take a break from Facebook and Twitter and avoid watching the news and commercial T.V. because there are so many political advertisements.
- Instead, set aside time each day to read about the election. This way you can stay informed without being completely consumed by the election.
- Try going out with friends or getting out in nature instead of focusing on politics. Look for activities that will help you focus on others and strengthen your relationships rather than engaging in political debate.
Seek medical help.If the stress associated with the election is causing you to have sleepless nights and you are unable to manage it through other forms of self-care, then you should seek professional medical assistance. High levels of stress can lead to a number of medical issues including increased blood pressure and heart problems. Talk with your doctor about your anxiety and come up with ways to manage your stress levels.
Thinking Constructively About the Election
Put things in perspective.Remind yourself that regardless of the election results life will go on. Some of the candidates may make extreme election promises and they may try and implement them upon election; however, there are certain checks and balances in place. For example, in the United States there are three branches of government, so Congress or the Supreme Court could prevent certain legislation from passing.
- Avoid thinking solely of the worst possible outcome.
- You can also look back on the tensions surrounding previous elections and realize that the country was able to come through them and move on.
Focus on the positives.Think about the big picture. Regardless of the outcome of the election, many aspects of your life will remain unchanged. Try and create a list of things that you enjoy doing in your daily life, that you will continue to enjoy despite the election results. This will help you understand that although you may not agree with the policies of a particular candidate they will not be able to negatively impact all areas of your life.
Find common ground.Elections can be polarizing for the citizens of a country. In order to attract votes, candidates can often put down the other candidate and party. This often causes divisions between people who support these parties. Rather than focusing solely on the political and ideological differences that each party represents, try and find common ground with people who have opposing views.
- For example, even though you and your friend support different candidates, you may agree on a few specific issues.
Appreciate your right to participate in elections.Take some time to reflect on the fact that you get to participate in the democratic process. For example, in some countries citizens are not able to vote for their government. It is also important to remember that not all populations have always been able to vote, even in democratic countries. For instance, at different points in the past people have been denied the right to vote based on their sex, race, property ownership, etc.
- Think about the fact that at least you are able to contribute to the outcome of the election. This will make you feel as though you have some form of control.
Accept the outcome.Regardless of whether the candidate you supported wins or not, it is important to learn to accept the outcome of the election. Remind yourself that other voters' opinions are as valid as your own, and that the results are representative of a majority of preferences, not just your personal preference.
- Allow these results to motivate you and inspire new ideas for involvement in your community. Start thinking about what you can do locally to inspire the sort of change you want to see in your community rather than waiting on politicians.
Volunteer your time.Rather than just sitting at home stressing about the impending election, actively get involved. Channel your energy and try and make a positive change in an issue you care about. You can volunteer your time in order to actively support one of the candidates. This will allow you to work as a part of a community that is making a difference in your area, regardless of election results.
- For example, you could canvass for one of the candidates by going door-to-door explaining the party platform.
- You could also try donating money to one of the candidates.
Engage in constructive debate.If you have friends or relatives who support a different political candidate than you, talk with them about the upcoming election. Try and understand their position, even if you don't necessarily agree with it. Then explain to them why you support a different candidate.
- This type of conversation and debate can lead you to see the opposing side in a more positive light and you may be able to learn something new.
- Only try this when you are calm and level-headed enough to have a thoughtful discussion without letting your emotions get the better of you. Do not enter trying to defend your points or persuade someone else to see things your way. Talk to create mutual understanding and acceptance of different opinions.
Make sure you vote.Voting is an important part of the democratic process and allows you to have your voice heard. By casting a vote you are actively participating in the outcome of the election. Make sure that you register to vote well in advance of the election date. You should also educate yourself about all of the candidates on the ballot, not just the presidential candidate. This will ensure that you make informed decisions.
Video: Tony Robbins: Overcome Your Negative Emotions (Tony Robbins Depression)
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