How Elections Impact Mental Health

Today’s the day; whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, you’ve likely been anxiously awaiting the outcome of this particularly…dramatic election.

How does this impact our mental health? Propaganda, memes, lively debates, the comment section of almost the entire Internet… how are these affecting our thoughts, emotions and actions?

Listen… I live north of the border along with many of my friends and most of us are discussing underground bunkers, adopting a life of alcoholism, becoming a hermit etc. Our children are having nightmares about it despite hardly being exposed… so, what exactly is going on here?

Collective discomfort.

You’re typically for one side, the other, or neither.

None of these produce a healthy outlook. What it does produce is conflict.

That’s not exclusive to American politics, but the U.S.’ s global presence (and the extremism of the candidates) is what makes this election so noteworthy.

Maybe you’re voting for a 3rd party. Great! But you can be pretty sure they won’t make the cut.

This amounts to:

  • Uncertainty
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Overwhelm
  • Hatred
  • Confrontation
  • Denial
  • Poor coping strategies

…and an overall “duality” that is restrictive and ineffective at inspiring change.

I think it’s safe to say that our minds are pretty overloaded when it comes to politics. Not only are we faced with more than one belief structure and the pressure to pick the one we like best; we are also required to deal with adversity from anyone who opposes our choice (and really, this tends to happen with or without provocation, especially with the openness found in social media) AND accept the final result whether we like it or  not. 

That is in NO WAY easy on the psyche!

As much as I am able to grasp the situation, I have no idea how to deal with it. This is an issue of freedom and – at its root – survival.

But hey! At the end of the day… it could be worse.

Whatever the outcome, stay true to your best self. Ask questions and be open to the answers. Be kind to your fellow voters regardless of their candidate of choice. Take care of yourselves. Discuss your feelings surrounding the election constructively and respectfully, whether in the comfort of your homes with family or all over social media.

I also feel that approaching the situation with humour is a great way to relieve tension. Learning to laugh at it from any angle is key – not just laughing at the opponent’s expense.

Either way, don’t feel pressured to remain silent. Who was it that said we shouldn’t speak of sex, politics or religion? We all need to work through this discomfort together.

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