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Five Tips to Help Manage Your Mental Health in a Tense Political Climate

To say 2020 has been challenging is an understatement. From COVID-19 to wildfires, civil unrest and everything in between, it’s understandable to feel like we can’t catch a break. On top of that, there’s a presidential election looming in the foreground. This election cycle feels unique: The stakes feel higher, and the news coverage can feel inescapable.

Even if you’re not plugged into the news 24/7, conversations about the election are everywhere. As we get closer to Election Day, it’s important to prioritize your mental health. Stress around the election can compound and have a negative effect on your physical and mental health. As reported on the OneMedical.com blog, research shows Americans are stressed by the 2020 election: One in five say they’re losing sleep and experiencing strained relationships over politics.

It’s essential to find a healthy balance between being informed and knowing when to take a break. Follow these tips if you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious in this tense political climate.

  1. Unplug. It’s easy to want to stay informed up-to-the-second on what’s happening in the election cycle, but all news is not good news. Try leaving your phone in another room or turning it off for a few hours or apply application limits. Spend your time away from your phone or computer and with your family or friends. Hang up and hang out.
  2. Take Action. Feeling powerless can intensify feelings of stress and anxiety, but you can take action and #BeTheDifference for yourself and those in your community. Volunteering at the polls or with a community group if you are able can help alleviate stress and feelings of low self-esteem. It can also give you a sense of control during these uncertain times.
  3. Practice Self-care. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive – prioritizing getting adequate sleep and some fresh air every day are great places to start. Try a new recipe, have family game night, or treat yourself to a face mask. Exercise is another a great way to get endorphins flowing to help boost your mood. Anything that makes you feel comfortable and safe is a fantastic way to unwind when feeling stressed.
  4. Excuse Yourself. The election is at the top of a lot of our minds, and conversations around it can be hard to escape. Be mindful of how these conversations are affecting you and know when to walk away or change the topic to something less tense. Setting boundaries can help protect your mental health during stressful times.
  5. Be Open. The divisive nature of this election cycle is a major point of contention for many. However, taking the time to listen and be open to other’s opinions can open the door to being compassionate. Instead of shutting down, try finding common ground if possible.

Be aware of how you feel, and know that it’s OK to create boundaries for yourself. Your mental health and well-being should always be a top priority. Dedicate time for yourself, your family, or your friends and always remember that it’s OK to reach out for help if you feel overwhelmed.

You can #BeTheDifference for yourself by unplugging and unwinding during this tense time. Learn about more ways Mental Health First Aid can help you practice self-care.