- Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
- Anxiety about the election can take a huge toll on your mental health, productivity, and job performance.
- Morin says doom-scrolling, heated workplace political discussions, and working tirelessly can only heighten your election-related stress.
- To curb these feelings, divide your work schedule into short chunks, practice good self care, and take days off for mental rejuvenation.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Whether you’re anxious about how the elections results are going to impact the stock market or how the pandemic is being handled, election-related stress can take a big toll on your mental health. It can also harm your productivity at the office (even when you’re working from home).
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to manage your stress as you deal with the uncertainty of the future â€” from who is going to be elected to how those officials might affect your life.
Limit your media consumption
You might think staying glued to the news is helpful. After all, you don’t want to miss out on anything important.
But much of the news is filled with worst-case scenario doom and gloom stories. The more you tune in, the worse you’re likely to feel.
And in reality, you likely aren’t going to miss anything. When something important happens, you’re guaranteed to find out about it pretty quickly, even if you aren’t watching the news. Your social media feed, friends, and family will surely fill you in.
But keep in mind, even if you don’t know what’s happening the second it unfolds, that’s fine too. Nothing awful will happen if you aren’t “in the know” right away.
You might decide to tune into the news twice a day â€” maybe at lunch and once in the evening. Or you might limit reading news articles to just 30 minutes a day. Setting those types of limits can give your brain and your body a much-needed break from stressful news.
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Avoid political discussions at work
While you might think airing your grief about the politics at work helps you “vent your frustrations,” talking about the things that upset you will just fuel your anger. Studies show talking about stressful events triggers your body to release more cortisol, the stress hormone. That may lead to headaches, chest pain, increased blood pressure, and difficulty sleeping.
You’re better off talking about pleasant subjects â€” like something you’re looking forward to or something funny that happened.
If other people try talking to you about politics, exit the conversation. Whether you just walk away from the break room or you mute an online conversation, don’t waste your brainpower rehashing political views.
Practice good self-care
You won’t be able to function at your best if you’re not taking care of yourself. Try to get eight hours of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and move your body.
Carve out time to do things you enjoy and spend time with people who energize you. Experiment with other self-care strategies too, like yoga, meditation, or journaling, to see what works best for you.
Work in short chunks of time
High levels of stress can make it difficult to focus and stay on task. You might find you’re able to be more productive when you work in short chunks of time.
Aim to work for 15 minutes and then give yourself a quick two-minute break. Or try working for 20 minutes with a five-minute break. Stretch, walk around, or even step outside to get fresh air for a minute if you can.
Short breaks can help you return to work with a renewed sense of focus. Just make sure you don’t use your breaks to scroll through the news or look at social media. Doing so may just amplify your stress.
Take a mental health day if you need one
If you’re having difficulty doing your job, you might benefit from taking a mental health day. Of course, however, not all mental health days are created equal.
Staying home to watch the news all day or argue with people on social media is more likely to make your mental health worse. Taking time to be in nature and get away from the news or just taking time to get some things done around the house without any political discussions might help you feel better.
If you feel comfortable talking to your boss, it might be worth telling your boss the truth (as opposed to just calling in sick). Explain that you’ve been feeling a little stressed out and you want to take a day off so you can return to work in a better psychological space. A reasonable boss should respect that you have self-awareness enough to know when you need a break.