By: Rebecca Zingarelli, MA, LPCC
It’s Election Day! A big day for our country. A big day for big feelings. The emotions of the day can be quite overwhelming. We can feel pride in our country and that we live in a place where democracy allows our voices to be heard. We can feel the anticipatory buzz of waiting to see if the candidates who represent our beliefs will be elected. We can feel the building excitement as we watch the results trickle in as we eagerly watch what will become of the future of our nation.
While feelings of pride and excitement are typical for some, they aren’t the typical emotions for many. Many people feel a sense of impending doom about the election for a variety of reasons. Some feel angry at the constant barrage of political ads that use fear mongering to manipulate our emotions to make a choice that should be based on rational facts. Some of us feel the rage of the potential injustice of having our rights taken away. Some feel complete apathy toward the whole process because of the overwhelming amount of misinformation. This can lead us to believe that our vote won’t be counted, so why vote at all?
Regardless of which camp you fall in (or maybe you’re in both camps), emotions take center stage during election season and oftentimes they are hard to manage. It’s important to understand that, while all these emotions are valid and important to listen to, unnecessary thoughts can lead us to feel them in a more extreme way than necessary.
Here are some ways that you can safeguard your feelings:
Don’t go down the rabbit hole. Thoughts have a habit of incrementally leading us down a path which is unhelpful and unhealthy. For instance, we might see that our candidate didn’t win. Instead of just being disappointed and slightly worried about how it will affect us, we jump from thought to thought. All of a sudden, we see a future where we are living in a dystopian wasteland where democracy is over and all our rights have vanished. Is it plausible? Yes. Is it likely? No. Just because you have a thought, doesn’t make it true. Avoid the intensity of the feelings by not following the thoughts down the rabbit hole.
Limit your media consumption. Remember that whatever media you watch, read, or listen to, it’s important not to inundate yourself in it. Set time limits and remember that almost all media is created to make money. The more emotion media sources elicit from you, the longer you watch/read/listen (and the more money they make). Media’s goal is to make you emotional. You don’t have to play their game. Find a source that is as unbiased as possible and set limits as to how much time you spend watching/reading/listening.
Watch out for misinformation. You can’t believe everything you read and it’s pointless to get upset about something if it’s not true. Avoid the feelings misinformation seeks to create, and fact check your sources if they aren’t already proven to be reputable.
Just remember, you are not alone in your feelings. Hopefully these three things can help keep your Election Day stress manageable!
Rebecca Zingarelli is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who lives and works in the Oakley area of Cincinnati. Rebecca works with clients of all ages who struggle with anxiety, depression, LGBTQ+ concerns, transitions, and stress. If you feel you would like to explore your feelings further regarding election stress or for any other reason, I am accepting new clients and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-589-6868 ext. 5.