How To Avoid Election Stress


Limit your ambient exposure to social media, where attacks on a candidate or policy can feel like attacks on you, personally. Dr. Stosny suggests setting aside specific periods to check the news or your social media feeds. If you do engage with relatives or friends on Facebook or Twitter, try to take those conversation offline, where you might have a more successful and meaningful exchange.

Nevertheless, Dr. Jena Lee, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, cautioned against assuming you’ll be an anxious mess on Election Day. “Humans are quite resilient,” she said. “There’s a strong possibility that you will be able to cope.”

It will remain important to discuss political issues and what’s at stake with those closest to you, even if you tend to disagree. Those conversations don’t have to get heated, even if you’re confronted with a gloating or irritable relative. “If someone is angry at you, you want to see that they’re really feeling hurt and devalued,” Dr. Stosny said.

If a family member approaches you with anger, try to respond with compassion. Consider setting a time limit on your political discussions, Dr. Lee said, agreeing in advance to a fun, shared activity when your time is up.

That might sound easier said than done. But several experts agreed that instead of debating specific policies, you’d be better served grounding your conversations in values like equality, justice and fairness, as well as being candid about what you’re feeling and why.

“The most important work that we can do as citizens in that gap between the votes being cast and counted is zoom out,” said Beth Silvers, who co-hosts the podcast “Pantsuit Politics” and co-wrote the book “I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening)” with Sarah Stewart Holland. “Do we want every vote to be counted? Do we want to have confidence in the results, even if it’s a result we don’t like? What kind of commitments do we owe each other in this period?”

Political and social divides among your family members and peers are not going to be resolved by this election alone, even once the results are tallied and certified. But persistent, thoughtful communication can help bridge differences. “Chip, chip, chip, chip, chip away over conversations based in fact,” Dr. Tillery said, “and asking them what they think is morally right.”


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