THE BLOG
11/06/2012 08:28 am ET Updated Jan 06, 2013

5 Ways to Cope With Election Stress

Today is Election Day. We've been inundated with campaign stories, pictures, and opinions. It's on the news, it's on social networks, it's everywhere! Just the anticipation of the election can be enough to stir up a case of nerves, but when we consistently talk or read about the topic, we can enhance our stress levels considerably. You see, when we have taken a stand and identified ourselves with what we believe to be the most important issues, if someone does not see things our way, we unconsciously feel as though there has been an attack on our personal values. When we feel our position is not being respected, our stress levels increase. From that point on, each media report we see, update we read, and conversation we engage in all contribute to sensory overload.

The mental chatter in our mind can lead to feelings of anxiety, fear, worry, or even anger. So, in order to decompress, let's consciously switch gears and get a little relief! Some of us are more skilled at calming our minds than others, but every single one of us has the power to change our thoughts. Here are some tips to help change the film playing on the projector of your mind:

Read a book. Sometimes we need to consciously assign a new topic to our minds to focus on, and reading is the best escape there is! While reading, your mind is taken off everything going on around you, and you are transported into a whole new realm. For obvious reasons, do not choose a politically-charged book at this time, or you will defeat the purpose of redirecting your thoughts.

Focus. Stay centered and focus your thoughts on what is positive about the candidate you are supporting, in your life or in the world. When we focus on why someone is wrong, or when we vilify another person for their beliefs, we provide a stronger charge to the negative, which only brings us more negative things to dwell upon. Always focus on what is positive.

Unplug. Make a conscious choice to unplug yourself from the topic. You do not have to read, watch, or discuss anything that fuels your anxiety. Set limits, get updates if necessary, but ultimately you may want to remove yourself completely.

Breathe. When you find yourself under stress and you need an immediate intervention, breathe! Deep breathing will calm your mind and bring you back to center. Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths; focus on your breathing. As your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breathing. After a few minutes, you will have gained the upper hand over your stress.

Exercise. Exercise is nature's antidepressant. Studies have shown that exercise increases the synthesis of new neurons in the brain, which is the same effect reported through the use of antidepressant medication. Burn off some steam; make some time for yourself and go on a brisk walk!

There are some things in life that we have no control over, but the wonderful truth is that stress will dissipate if we allow it to. Whatever is going to happen during this election is going to happen. Worrying or fretting is not going to impact the outcome; what it will do, however, is impact us! Have faith that things always happen the way they are supposed to, and form a picture in your mind of the best outcome as the result. Do your part by exercising your right to vote, but as far as the stress is concerned, remind yourself that before you know it, this will all be a memory. Soon enough you will be focused on the next chapter in this book called life. Isn't it wonderful!

For more by Denise Scarbro, click here.

For more on stress, click here.

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