As an anxious person, I wanted to write some tips for managing anxiety during election season. This year has been such a sh*t show and it’s difficult to not feel anxious all of the time especially with the intense political climate this year. In this post, I’m sharing ways to stay informed as a citizen while caring for your mental health and managing political anxiety.
Pick Issues that are Most Important to You
Sometimes it feels like everything is going wrong in the world when you’re reading the news. This is why it is important to choose 1-3 issues that are most important to you and stay up to date with those issues. One of my top 3 issues is climate change. Choosing your most important issues can help you consume news more thoughtfully as well as fighting the "everything is f*cking terrible" mindset.
Designate a Time Slot to Consume the News
As a journalism student and caring citizen, I try to stay up to date with the news as much as possible within reason. I subscribe to The New York Times ($1 a week for students) and I get daily briefings in my email each day. These emails make it easy for me to get the gist of what’s happening in the world and I can read more into specific issues if I choose.
I recommend setting a time slot to read the news in your day and stick to it! One of my worst habits is reading the news when I wake up or close to when I go to bed. This is always a bad idea for me because I either start my day raging or go to bed swimming with anxiety. When you select a time slot in your day, try to aim for the middle of the day so you don’t infringe on relaxing or unwinding times in the day.
Unplug from Social Media
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, but we really need to make more boundaries around our time! As a blogger, I create a lot of content for Instagram, Tiktok, and Pinterest so I spend quite a bit of time on social media apps. Social media is a great place to share art, but it has also become very political.
Sometimes when I see a political post online, I can’t help but read the comments which ultimately leads me feeling upset and discouraged by all the hateful people in the world. This feeling is even worse when it’s someone you know personally making an ignorant or racist comment.
When you start to feel angry or anxious, try putting your phone down and doing something to take care of yourself like taking a walk or petting a furry friend. It is so important to know when to take a break from social media and breathe. Also, set boundaries around what time you’re going to stop looking at social media just like with reading the news. Social media is not for bedtime! You don’t need your racist family member’s post swimming in your head when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Meditate and Practice Empathy
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and help with managing anxiety during election season. When I meditate consistently, I notice I feel significantly less anxious and have more empathy for others instead of feeling frustrated and angry. I really like using the Headspace app to meditate and they also have meditation tracks for falling asleep ($10 a year for students).
When it comes to politics, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that there are good guys and bad guys. In the real world, it’s just not that simple. When you’re around someone with a different political philosophy than you, it’s important to remember that they align with certain political values for different reasons like the background they grew up in, not cause they’re evil (well, hopefully lol).
With the rise of social media and algorithms, we are more likely to see political posts that align with our existing political philosophy instead of being challenged by a different way of viewing the world. Throughout my journalism education, I’ve realized that social media isn’t great for challenging political mindsets, but rather strengthens your idea about how you see the world
Make a Voting Plan
If you haven’t made a voting plan, do so now! Make a decision about whether you’re voting with a mail-in ballot, voting early, or voting the day of the election. Yesterday, I delivered my mail-in ballot straight to the registrar of voters in Nevada. It felt so good to vote! This is the first Presidential election I’m voting in. After all the political anxiety I’ve had the past four years, voting was really satisfying because it felt like I was actually able to use my voice. Please please please VOTE!
I hope you enjoyed these tips for managing anxiety during election season! Let me know in the comments how you plan to vote and how you’re taking care of yourself during election season <3