Tuesday, Nov. 3, was Election Day and many Americans are waiting anxiously for the results. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), more than two-thirds of U.S. adults say the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress in their life. And those feelings are being experienced throughout the King County workforce, as well. A recent survey of employees involved in the COVID-19 response showed that the presidential election is their primary source of stress.
Election stress will show up in different ways for different people. Some examples include panic attacks, trouble sleeping, difficultly concentrating, anger, sadness, headaches, or stomachaches. Election stress may also cause us to participate in behaviors such as over-eating, mindless internet scrolling, significantly increasing news consumption, or watching more TV than normal in order to “numb out” from difficult feelings.
Be gentle with yourself if these feelings or behaviors arise. 2020 has been the year of a pandemic, a racial justice uprising, wildfires, and economic struggles. Experiencing difficult emotions or adjusting your behaviors in order to cope is normal during hard times.
Take comfort in the value of your work – the services you provide are important for the people of King County and this work will continue, regardless of the election result.
If you’d like to reduce election stress, read on for tips and resources from Balanced You.
Prepare for delayed results
Expect to wait for the answer. Experts tell us that we may not know the presidential election results on November 3, and it could be days or weeks before we clearly understand who wins the race. Accepting this as a likely reality can help reduce the inherent stress of uncertainty.
Plan now for how you will spend the time while we wait. If watching the news is stressful, schedule activities that bring you joy, instead. Consider socially distanced outings with friends, game or movie nights with family, dance parties at home, virtual church services, or joining one of Balanced You’s virtual exercise classes. Perhaps there’s even a household chore you’ve been putting off that will be satisfying to complete and will help take your mind off current events for a few hours.
Use stress reduction techniques that work for you
Obsessively watching news on television or continually scrolling through social media to try and glean new details will only serve to increase your stress. Instead, focus on stress reduction techniques that work for you. Here are a few examples:
- Sleep: Keep your sleeping space cool and quiet and consider plugging phones and other devices away from your bedside so you won’t be tempted to look at electronics just before or after sleeping.
- Exercise: Exercise can help reduce anxiety. Move your body however and whenever feels good. Balanced You offers weekly live virtual yoga and body strength classes you can join for free. Or, consider bundling up and heading out for a hike to take in the fall foliage.
- Nutrition: Comfort foods are helpful in moderation. Also remember to bring vegetables, fruit, protein, and whole grains into your diet and focus on drinking water or herbal tea.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a practice that can help you find a sense of peace and ease during difficult experiences. Consider signing up for one of Balanced You’s free mindfulness classes, including our Mindful Eating class on November 10 and 17, or our Mindfulness Morning on Saturday, November 14. If you can’t make a class, try integrating Balanced You’s on-demand mindfulness videos for King County employees into your day.
For other recommendations on stress reduction techniques, check out this blog post from Balanced You.
Look for signs of hope
Where can you find signs of hope? Is it in the public outcry against racism? The youth uprising to combat climate change? Communities working together to protect each other from coronavirus? Virtual concerts? The changing season turning our landscape into a vivid display of colors?
Be intentional about spending a moment with that feeling of hope and offering gratitude to it. Balancing positive feelings against our stressful realities can give us the resilience we need to get through this.
Additional mental health resources for King County employees
Balanced You has resources King County employees can access to support your mental health as we move through this together. If you need additional support, consider the following:
- Counseling via telehealth: Regence and Kaiser therapists can be accessed from your home, via telehealth. If you have a provider, ask them if telehealth is available. For more information, contact your insurance company.
- Making Life Easier and Employee Assistance Program: Making Life Easier (MLE) provides many free counseling and referrals, credit and legal consultations, mortgage assistance, childcare resources and referrals, and other daily living supports. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free counseling to help King County employees navigate workplace stress.
- Better Choices, Better Health: Better Choices, Better Health is a six-week, online, small-group based workshop designed to improve the lives of people living with long-term health conditions, including anxiety and depression. This program is free for King County employees and dependents.
- Mental Health Resource Guide: View this guide for additional King County and community-based mental health support resources.
Information on voting
If you have not voted and would like information on where to vote, visit this King County website. Please note, main-in ballots must be post-marked today or returned to a ballot box by 8 p.m. Polling centers are open for in-person voting until 8 p.m. For questions regarding voting in King County, contact 206-296-VOTE. For information on voting in other counties, visit this Washington State website.