2020 has been a doozy of a year. For many of us, we can’t even think back to what the world was like pre-pandemic. Since March it has been a flurry of terrifying headlines, quarantine challenges and all the while preparing for this day- Election Day.
I am intentionally not going to tell you whom I am voting for because that has nothing to do with what I want to offer you in this write up. As a therapist I want to speak to the anxiety that everyone is feeling right now and how in the world you will get through today, tonight, this week and next year.
One of the main techniques therapists use in working with their clients is to normalize their emotions and experiences. Try on this stat for size. In a recent Harris Poll, taken on behalf on the American Psychological Association, they found that 68% of respondents identified the 2020 presidential election as a contributor for an increase in stress during their lives. This was compared to 52% four years ago (Wall Street Journal, 2020). There you have it- you are not alone.
Ok great, so now what do I do? Glad you asked. What I am about to share likely won’t be mindboggling information. I am sure you already know all of this but what I also know is that in times of extreme anxiety and panic it is ridiculously easy to forget the simple ways we can look out for ourselves and our loved ones.
Step 1: Have your Election Day plan.
I know that this article is coming out on the big day and you may not be able to read this first thing in the morning. That’s ok. Even if you get to this Tuesday night or even on Thursday, I think it is likely we will all still be in the thick of anxiety. One of the best ways to combat that is to create a plan of how you will deal- it will give you a sense of control when the world may feel like it is spinning out of control.
When our brains are in fight-or-flight mode, it can be a real challenge to think through and make the smallest decisions. We can become easily distracted, get irritable with our partners and children and feel like our sole purpose in life is to stay glued to the TV and social media.
I completely understand all of those reactions and we can objectively see that is not healthy so plan to do otherwise. Have your meals planned out, try to get the harder work tasks done as soon as you can and schedule when you will check in with the news. If you are finding that you are getting snappy with your people, connection is the best way to combat that. Cozy up on the couch, give them a hug or find something to laugh about.
Step 2: Understand that knowing is better than not knowing.
If we have learned one thing from 2020 it is that uncertainty is one of the biggest beasts to deal with. That goes for the pandemic and for this election season. Many people are saying things like, “I’m just ready for this to be over! Rip off the band aid already.”
I get that because once we have a result we can figure out what is within our control to deal with whatever the outcome will be. Perhaps you can create best-case scenario and worst-case scenario plans for what you will do in the weeks and months to come. Will you write letters, engage in peaceful protests, and have difficult conversations with your loved ones? All of this is in your hands.
Step 3: Recognize that you are more resilient than you realize.
You have survived almost eight months in a global pandemic. You have likely experienced changes in your work environment, have had to step into roles you previously didn’t inhabit and guaranteed you have dealt with other personal challenges you are not giving yourself credit for.
Think about the hardest times in your life and how you have dealt with them. Even if some of it was handled with unhealthy coping mechanisms, that’s ok. That’s information you want to look at now too in order to avoid repeating a pattern. Guaranteed you will also be able to come up with examples that you’re proud of. Let these memories be your anchor and reminder that you can deal with hard things.
Step 4: Seek support as needed.
Mental health hotlines have prepared for an influx of calls in the coming days and weeks. If you need additional support, please reach out to a loved one or any of the following resources.
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
The Trevor Project: 866-4-U-TREVOR (889-3967)
Crisis Text Line: Text GO to 741-741
Hi! My name is Marina. I am a twenty-something therapist living in a plugged-in world, with a pressure to do it all, all while trying to stay sane. I recognize that the twenties and entering in adulthood can be both a trying and exciting time. Because of that, I want to use both my clinical and real-life education to provide support for those out there that are trying to figure out how to make it in the real world.
In my practice, I love working with this demographic because of the amount of opportunities and possibilities available. I am fortunate to have the unique ability of being able to relate to individuals living in this decade on a real level and provide tangible support and tools. When I am not talking to someone in my office, I love talking to large groups of people, providing presentations at schools, community organizations, and businesses on topics ranging from teens and technology to work-life balance.
Additionally, I am an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology program
I am thrilled to learn more about the readers of The Daily Feels and help each other figure out this crazy and exciting time of life together!