How to Handle Election Anxiety
According to the American Psychological Association, more than two-thirds of adults are finding the 2020 election to be a significant source of stress. Because politics are often tied to morals and personal values, talking about them means also talking about how we view ourselves, our roles, our responsibilities to others, and what we want for our future. As the results come out over the next few days, many employees may be struggling to balance this uncertainty with their regular workload. Below are a few ideas for employees to reduce stress and for organizations to take to support them during this time:
- Be mindful of media consumption – Many people do not realize how much media they consume and how much time they spend on their phones. Doom scrolling, the self-destructive habit of endlessly scrolling through negative news, can be toxic for mental health. “One question that we can ask ourselves is: ‘Is it helpful for my mind to be here?’,” said Eric Loucks, director of the Mindfulness Center at Brown University. “If not, can you bring your mind to a place where it is helpful for you?” Find a distraction, turn off notifications and set a dedicated time to get news updates.
- Talk with friends and family – Human interaction can alleviate stress and reduce feelings of isolation, so check in on a loved one. This could be in person, a phone or a zoom call. If talking about the election adds stress or you have differing beliefs, try to keep the conversation light-hearted and talk about topics other than politics. Set boundaries and focus on why you have a relationship with the person, instead of your differences. Spending time with pets is another great way to relax.
- Exercise – Working out is a common suggestion for reducing stress however, this doesn’t have to involve a trip to the gym. Many platforms and studios are offering free virtual classes so you don’t have to leave the house. If you do want to get outside, a short walk is a great mood-booster. Getting those endorphins flowing, especially in nature, is beneficial for both stress and general healthiness.
- Focus on the good – It can seem impossible to find positivity when everything around you feels negative, but it is out there. Watch a feel-good movie or read some uplifting stories to remind yourself good news is still happening. Another way to do this is to give back or volunteer yourself. Living according to your beliefs and putting them into practice can distract from the fact that the election may not be working out as you hoped. Often fear and anxiety stem from things we cannot control. Focus on what you can control, like your values, your emotions, and your actions.
- Seek help – If you’re struggling to balance your mental health and your workload, be honest with your managers and co-workers. The next few weeks will likely remain stressful, so work with your team so create a plan that works for everyone. Headspace and Calm, among other online resources, are two apps that offer guided meditation. If you feel like you need additional support, find out what mental health benefits are available to you and seek professional guidance as needed. You aren’t in this alone and there are options available to help.
- Commit to mutual respect – Organizations must create a safe, inclusive environment through active listening and practicing empathy for employee stress and the different ways they’re trying to cope with it. The reality is that not all employees will agree on every topic—whether work-related, personal or political. Employers should focus on encouraging employees to respect each other and their thoughts, even if they disagree.
- Give guidance on election-related conversations – Leaders should be non-partisan and objective while also being authentic. Managers and executives should set the example by focusing the attention on how they’re feeling instead of sharing too many personal views or opinions. Focus on what topics are appropriate, rather than what employees should believe or think. Employers should clearly outline what types of behaviors are not welcome while avoiding providing direct or indirect guidance on how an employee should feel about political issues.
- Offer help – 2020 has been a challenging year for most people, and the election may be worsening the symptoms. Managers should frequently check-in and ensure everyone’s workloads are manageable. If employees are feeling overwhelmed, communicate with your team for solutions. Employers may also consider bringing in a wellness professional to share stress management strategies, especially if multiple employees are experiencing these feelings. Lastly, connect employees to their mental health benefits and encourage them to seek additional help if they no longer can manage on their own.
As the stress of dealing with the election continues and immerses itself into the workplace, it’s important for leaders to acknowledge this stress and show employees their support. Exude can provide non–partisan, voluntary training and development sessions focused on our humanness and how we can connect and thrive during this time. If your organization is struggling to balance this stress, please fill out the form below for more information: