Last weekend my husband and I hosted our annual Oktoberfest Party with our close friends and family. This year we thought it would be fun if everyone wrote down a toast and put it in a hat. If someone mentioned politics, they had to pull a toast from the hat and cheer everyone to health and happiness. It turned out to be quite a hit and a nice way to divert a potentially heated debate while maintaining the light-hearted fun we intended for our guests.
The American Psychological Association recently came out with a study showing stress this year has risen significantly due to the upcoming election. With all the bantering, arguing, name calling and division on and off line, this comes of no surprise. Unfortunately, this stress has spilled over into relationships as well. In an earlier study by Monmouth University, it was reported that 7% of survey respondents lost or ended a friendship over the race. Needless to say, the constant coverage of the election on television and social media has taken its toll on Americans.
If you feel election stress is effecting you, the American Psychological Association has a few tips that will help you survive the final few weeks until election day:
If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims from the candidates is causing you stress, limit your media consumption. Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the news feed or take a digital break. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy.
Avoid getting into discussions about the election if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict. Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the election with friends, family members or coworkers.
Stress and anxiety about what might happen is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group. Remember that in addition to the presidential election, there are state and local elections taking place in many parts of the country, providing more opportunities for civic involvement.
Whatever happens on Nov. 8, life will go on. Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.
Vote. In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter. By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle. Find balanced information to learn about all the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), make informed decisions and wear your “I voted” sticker with pride.
Finally, if all else fails, make a toast.