Election 2016 and the Anxiety it is Causing

election anxietyElection 2016 has me thinking catastrophically. As a personal rule, I avoid obsessive worry about the future and am able to flip the switch if I find myself going there. This year, the switch is sticking more and more. To avoid inciting anger in you the reader, who may be strongly in support of one of the people running, I won’t enumerate my political concerns, but suffice it to say, I am less than confident either candidate can do the job well. At the very least, I fear this will result in another four years of nothing getting done, at the most … forget it, cannot go there. My heart rate is rising just thinking about it.

For a moment, forget about taxes and walls, and think about how Election 2016 is affecting your health. Anxiety is bad. It raises your blood pressure and lowers your illness fighting ability. It negatively affects your physical, as well as your emotional, wellbeing putting you at increased risk for depression. It puts a strain on your relationships, shortens your temper and worse than all that, deepens your worry lines. If you are also angry about the choices put before you and the reality circus that is this election, you are doubling your risk for all of the above.

What to do if you are suffering from Election 2016 induced anxiety:

Chances are, you already know how you are voting and so, watching the drama unfold is not helpful or educational. Limit time watching, reading or listening to news — and I use the term news lightly — about the election.

Avoid arguments with people, especially drunk people, about politics. Not only will it ruin your day and your mood, heated arguments have their own hangover effect, with your stress hormones staying high long after the discussion is over.

Focus on the present. By living in the moment, you can avoid the worry that accompanies thinking about the next four years in the U.S.

Limit your caffeine intake. Here is the downward spiral. You worry -> You can’t sleep -> You are tired and irritable -> You drink more coffee -> Your anxiety increases -> You can’t sleep …
Often when we are most anxious, we drink even more caffeine because for a short time, it gives us a pick-me-up. Caffeine mimics the physiological effects of anxiety, ultimately compounding its emotional effects making us even more nervous and irritable.

Accept the outcome is out of your control. While I want to believe my vote does count, and it does in terms of gratitude, patriotism and love of country, there is not very much I can do at this point to affect the election. Accept the things you cannot change.

Spend time over the next week doing things you enjoy. We are fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedom — for now (sorry, that one slipped out) — to decide how we spend our time. Choose activities that make your heart race in a good way.

 

 

 

 

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness Coach. She helps clients with parenting issues, the challenges of college and young adulthood and issues related to health and habits. Email her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of the Audible Original, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents.

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