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Navigating Election Year News Stress: A Therapist’s Toolkit for Staying Sane




Hey there! So, it's that time again—election year. The time when our social media feeds are filled with political debates, TV news channels can’t stop talking about polls and predictions, and every conversation at family gatherings somehow turns into a mini-debate. It’s no wonder that many people find themselves feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or downright exhausted from the constant barrage of news. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Let’s talk about some therapeutic and simple coping skills to help you deal with the psychological impact of watching the news during an election year. And here at Sadler Bridges Wellness Group, our therapists are here to support you every step of the way.

Validate Your Experience

First off, let’s get one thing straight: it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. The news can be intense, especially during election season. Every headline seems urgent, every debate feels crucial, and the stakes often feel sky-high. Recognizing that your stress is valid and that it's a common experience is the first step in managing it. You're not being overly sensitive or dramatic—you're having a perfectly natural response to a highly charged environment.

The Challenges of Election News Stress

Before we dive into coping strategies, let’s understand why election news can be so stressful:

  1. Constant Exposure: With 24/7 news cycles and social media, it’s hard to escape election coverage. This constant exposure can lead to information overload and heightened stress levels.

  2. Emotional Rollercoaster: Election news often involves intense emotions. Stories about political scandals, heated debates, and dramatic polls can trigger feelings of anxiety, anger, or hopelessness.

  3. Uncertainty and Fear: Elections determine the future direction of a country, which can create feelings of uncertainty and fear about what’s to come.

  4. Social Division: Political discussions can sometimes lead to conflicts with friends, family, or colleagues, adding to the emotional toll.

  5. Impact on Personal Beliefs and Values: Election news can touch on deeply personal aspects of our lives, including our financial security, gender issues, spiritual beliefs, and ethical values. This can make the news feel not just informative, but personally intrusive and challenging.

Coping Strategies to Keep Your Cool

Now, let’s look at some practical ways to keep your sanity intact during this election season:

1. Set Boundaries with News Consumption

One of the best ways to protect your mental health is to set boundaries with your news consumption. Here’s how:

  • Limit Your News Time: Decide how much time you want to spend on news each day and stick to it. Maybe 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. Setting a timer can help keep you accountable.

  • Choose Reliable Sources: Stick to a few trusted news sources rather than scrolling through endless feeds. This can help reduce the amount of sensationalized or misleading information you encounter.

  • Designate News-Free Zones: Create spaces in your home where you don’t check the news, like your bedroom or dining area. This can help create a physical and mental separation from the constant news cycle.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool in managing stress and staying grounded. Here are a few techniques to try:

  • Deep Breathing: When you feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to practice deep breathing. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four. Repeat this several times to calm your nervous system.

  • Mindful Observation: Take a break from the news to observe your surroundings. Focus on the details of what you see, hear, and feel. This simple exercise can help bring you back to the present moment.

  • Meditation Apps: Apps like Headspace or Calm offer guided meditations specifically designed to reduce stress and anxiety. Even a few minutes a day can make a big difference.

3. Stay Physically Active

Physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and boost your mood. You don’t need to run a marathon—just find something you enjoy:

  • Take a Walk: A simple walk around your neighborhood can help clear your mind and reduce stress. Plus, fresh air and nature are natural mood boosters.

  • Try a New Workout: Whether it’s yoga, dancing, or a new fitness class, trying something new can be fun and invigorating.

  • Stretch it Out: If you’re short on time, even a few minutes of stretching can help release tension and improve your mood.

4. Connect with Others

Social support is crucial during stressful times. Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues for support and connection:

  • Share Your Feelings: Talking about your stress can be incredibly relieving. Find someone you trust and share what you’re going through.

  • Join a Group: Consider joining a support group or an online community where you can connect with others who are also navigating election-related stress.

  • Have Fun: Make time for fun and laughter. Watch a funny movie, play a game, or do something that makes you happy.

5. Engage in Positive Activities

Balance out the negative news with positive activities that bring you joy and relaxation:

  • Pursue Hobbies: Spend time on hobbies or activities that you love, whether it’s reading, cooking, gardening, or crafting.

  • Practice Gratitude: Take a few moments each day to write down or think about things you’re grateful for. Focusing on the positive can help shift your mindset.

  • Volunteer: Helping others can provide a sense of purpose and connection. Look for volunteer opportunities in your community or online.

6. Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you find that election news is severely impacting your mental health, it may be helpful to seek professional support. At Sadler Bridges Wellness Group, our therapists are here to provide you with the tools and strategies to manage your stress and anxiety effectively. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support.

A Touch of Humor

Let’s not forget the importance of humor. Laughter is a fantastic stress reliever, so don’t hesitate to find the funny side of things. Here are a few light-hearted tips:

  • Create a News-Free Playlist: Compile a playlist of songs that have nothing to do with politics. Dance it out to some cheesy 80s hits or your favorite guilty pleasures.

  • Election-Free Zone Sign: Make a fun sign for your home or workspace that declares it an “Election-Free Zone.” Sometimes a little visual reminder can help keep things light.

  • Silly Distractions: Keep a few silly distractions handy, like a stress ball shaped like a politician or a comedy podcast that makes you laugh out loud.

Conclusion

Election years can be tough, but remember that you have the power to manage your stress and protect your mental health. By setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness, staying active, connecting with others, and engaging in positive activities, you can navigate this season with more ease and resilience. And don’t forget to sprinkle in some humor along the way—sometimes a good laugh is exactly what we need to keep things in perspective.

Take care, be kind to yourself, and remember: this too shall pass. And if you need a little extra support, the therapists at Sadler Bridges Wellness Group are always here to help.

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