Mental Health, Self-Care, Anxiety, Depression, Stress, Politics, Web

Mental Health, Self-Care

13 Election Day Mental Health Tips for the Stressed, Depressed, and Distressed

It’s gonna be a loooong night.

10/31/2020 9:02:00 PM

It’s gonna be a loooong night.

It’s gonna be a loooong night.

big night. For a lot of us, it will be impossible to look away—or to feel okay.But you should still consider making an effort to protect your mental health, especially if you anticipate Election Day will be fraught and upsetting for you. While it’s not possible to completely escape the

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bound to come with November 3rd, therearesome things you can do to look after yourself. So we talked to some mental health experts to get their tips.1. First, there’s no “right” way to spend Election Day.Let’s get this one out of the way, just because you might be feeling a certain way about how you think you “should” spend Election Day. Maybe you feel bad because you think tuning out would be better for your

, but you know you won’t be able to avoid getting sucked in. Or maybe you want to distract yourself by any means possible, but can’t help feeling like youshouldbe engaged.Here’s the thing: The election is going to happen whether you consume the updates or not, so try to trust your gut when deciding what to do. “Everyone knows themselves best,”

Alexa Mieses Malchuk, M.D., M.P.H., a family physician and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, tells SELF. (Like many family physicians, Dr. Mieses Malchuk regularly treats patients with mental and behavioral health conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.) “For some folks, watching a play-by-play as the election results unfold might help them relax and feel a sense of control over the situation. But other folks are going to need to plan an alternative activity that is fun and engaging to distract them from election night.”

2. You knew I was going to say this, but: Set social media boundaries.Both experts I talked to for this article—and plenty more experts I’ve been interviewing all election season—pointed tosocial mediaas a main contributor to election night stress. And 2020 stress in general. “If you're already in an anxious or distressed state, social media can amplify those negative emotions that you're having,” says Dr. Mieses Malchuk. “So I’d say, ideally on election night and maybe even in the days to follow, stay away from social media until you’re in a place to process the things that social media will present to you.”

But, of course, a lot of us hear this sort of thing and just kind of chuckle sadly because we know that’s never going to happen. In that case, think of some boundaries you can put in place to control your social media consumption in small ways. “I always suggest to people to establish a media-free zone in your home,”

Amanda Fialk, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., chief of clinical services at The Dorm, an NYC-based treatment center for young adults, tells SELF. That way, if you need a moment to step away from your phone or the news, you have somewhere to go. Even if it’s just the bathroom.

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Here are some other quick ideas for boundaries:Set time limits, like only spending 20 minutes per hour looking at social media, and enforce them with alarms or self-control apps likethese.Create a list of accounts (like friends or people whose opinions you respect) and limit yourself to scrolling through that list or those accounts separately.

Choose one social media platform and stick to it (do you really need to see what that random guy from your hometown is posting on Facebook?).Know what you’re looking for before you open an app (like checking reactions to a specific poll standing) rather than just aimlessly scrolling.

3. Decide where you’re going to get your news updates.Speaking of social media, it’s not a great primary source ofnews. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress (and potential false alarms) if you choose a small handful of trusted places to get your updates. And if you are going to use social media to get quick updates, make sure you pay attention to sources—and read more than the headline.

Advertisement“If you’re going to be scrolling and scrolling, remember not to look to Twitter or Facebook as fact instead of delving in and understanding where your news is coming from,” says Fialk. “Unreliable news sources only add to anxiety.”4. If you can’t look away, aim to take

Read more: SELF »

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