I’ve spoken with many people recently who are plagued with anxiety about what the election results will bring. This stress appears to cut across all political parties and it’s higher than in prior election years. Election fears are circulating around personal safety, financial security, housing stability— all things that make up the foundational needs of a human being. It’s no wonder so many are scared. The biggest concern right now for many people though is for the next generation. As parents, we’ve invested an awful lot into the wellbeing of our children and the uncertain impact on our kids is, undoubtedly, increasing this stress. Here are 5 tips for parents to survive election stress.
Survival Tips for Parent Election Stress
Avoid extremes. Toxic negativity and toxic positivity are both problematic. While finding things that bring you hope is useful, brushing aside fears completely is not. This is the danger of toxic positivity as it doesn’t allow us the freedom to feel all feelings. And, on the other end of the spectrum, resorting to catastrophizing generally leads us to sink into despair. As with many things, the answer is balance. Give yourself permission to feel all feelings, while also looking for the things that maintain our hope. If you catch yourself slipping into the extremes, take a moment to examine your thoughts and find more balanced replacements.
Take screen breaks. Many of us are being flooded with political news. Consider that a minute-by-minute play-by-play won’t change the outcome though it may effectively keep you on edge. If you think you’ll be tempted to live in a screen while you wait for the results of the election, consider scheduling some screen time breaks throughout. As a child psychologist, my recommendation is always to put away screens in bedrooms and during meals as these are places for rest and times for family connection and mindfulness. However, this may not be enough right now. If you’re able to go screen-free, this might be helpful. Most find this unrealistic though and you might find it more doable to set an alarm reminder to shut off your screen.
Connect with like-minded supports. It’s time to reach into your support network. And be discerning. Not all friends and family members will be able to hold space for you in a way that will be helpful right now. I know you know what I mean. It simply may not be helpful to choose this moment to try to bridge the political divide either. Choose to connect with those who are not going to feed into a sense of divisiveness. Schedule some check-in points in the next week.
Transform this energy. Anxious energy can be contagious and also just wholly debilitating if it goes unaddressed. Consider creating a plan to tap into your creative side or to do something that will bring you joy. Doodle, journal, meditate, play with the kids, go for a hike. Outlets like these often help bring clarity and peace, though don’t focus so much on a particularly productive end-goal. For example, this is one of those times that painting just for the joy of painting is far more helpful than painting with a specific product in mind.
After election plan. Though most experts are expecting that the election results will continue to pour in for days or more, you can still plan ahead. Anxiety and irritability often go hand-in-hand. Tensions may be running high in your household. How will you nourish your mind and body over the next several days regardless of the results? What will meet your needs for family connection and how can you also meet your needs for solitude? Make a pact right now, as a family, to cut each other extra slack over the next few days and draw out a plan to support one another in healthy sleep hygiene, eating habits and movement needs.
At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, we’re here for you.