Vital advice from psychologists on how to deal with the impending doom of election day
In October, the American Psychological Association surveyed thousands of Americans to measure their stress levels, and 52 percent of them said this election is a major source of source of stress for them. That number was about the same for Republicans and Democrats, and between men and women. People older than 71 felt the most stresssed by the election, followed by millennials. Interestingly, these two groups spend the most time on Facebook and are the fastest-growing age group of Facebook users respectively, factors that probably explain why the highest proportion of election-stressed people are the ones who constantly refresh Facebook — 54 percent of adults who use social media said the election was responsible for their near constant level of "shit-shit-shit-shit."
According to the New York Times, the stress of impending doom has caused the number of people to seek mental health help to surge. Therapists around the country have said in interviews that patients are coming to appointments citing their fears, anger and anxiety about the election. After speaking with them, they agree a common theme has emerged: this election is causing people to lose their minds because it makes them feel less safe. The issues that have bubbled up during this election — national security, Islamophobia, terrorism, hacking, second amendment rights, missing emails, tax fuckery, rigged elections and sexual assault — play into some of our deepest fears and anxieties about our own survival, well-being and what we know to be safe realities and thus: total fucking meltdowns.
You don't say.
Thankfully, the mental health effects of teetering on the edge to of total apocalypse is a thing that the APA wants to help you with. Here's what they've recommended to keep your stress at a manageable level while the clock ticks down to Armageddon.
1. Turn off your computer and throw your cell phone down a well
The one thing that the APA agreed is stressing us out the most is relentless election news. And, like we said above, that stress is highest among people who use social media.
On platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you can't move a pixel without running into a few dozen apocalyptic articles or videos about the candidates that raise your blood pressure and make you feel like we're headed towards certain doom, so ... shit! Just turn off the news.
That means shutting off your cell phone, TV and computer for just a bit until this psycho shit-show plays itself out. And relax — it's only for 24 hours until the election's over ... or at least until someone finds those 2 million "lost" absentee ballots in a landfill.
During this time, read just enough to stay informed. After that though, cut yourself off hang out with your friends, exercise, have sex, eat ramen or pet a kitten — shit, anything that makes you feel good and not like we're spiraling down into fascist dictatorship.
2. Just stop talking about it for two seconds
Yeah, yeah we know — it's the most important, most controversial election of the century and the result of it will have rippling effects for decades. You want to talk about it.
Well, too bad! For the next 24 hours, forbid your friends and family from talking to you about politics. After all, everyone's minds are already made up on which of the two candidates is more unjust and diabolical, so discussing it to the point where your jugular bulges out of your neck isn't going to help anyone, or change anyone's mind. Even if the people you're talking with agree with you, whatever instance of unbelievable political injustice you're all screaming about its probably going to rile you up to near-embolism level, and that doesn't do shit for you except lower your lifespan.
Now is the time to avoid that super-righteous friend of yours who won't shut up about Wikileaks, and to hang up on your mom when she starts frothing at the mouth about Trump's upcoming sexual assault trial.
Try to find a better topic to talk about right now, like where puppies come from, what the best burger in town is, and whether or not it's possible to give yourself head.
3. Turn your anxiety into something productive.
For example, if the prospect of Trump repealing Roe vs. Wade gives you nightmares, donate to Planned Parenthood. If the Hillary hacks give you hives, be proactive about changing your email passwords and updating your operating system and anti-virus software regularly.
If you think neither of them will exert one modicum of effort to address climate change, don't just sit around and stew in your stress and anger, because that accomplishes nothing. Go out and volunteer. Get involved. Advocate for the things you believe in.
Use your butt for reforesting baby trees, not sitting on your therapist's couch and single-handedly funding their next Hawaiian vacation.
4. Know that crazy elections have happened before, and we're still here
When it comes to extremely contentious elections wherein dire issues are on the line, this isn't America's first rodeo. The Lincoln vs. Douglas and the Adams vs. Jefferson elections were just as heated, and there were just as many life-or-death issues for them to eviscerate each other over (ahem, like slavery).
Here's what the APA said: "Whatever happens on Nov. 8, life will go on. Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective."
Even if the more satanic candidate wins and picks Supreme Court justices that'll flex their horrendous policies, the nominees will still have to be approved by the legislative branch. Even if the legislative branch proposes some unthinkable legislation, it still has to be approved by the President, and possible the Supreme Court, and blah blah blah. There are checks and balances for a reason, and they exist to keep you and your country safe.
Even if you feel disillusioned by both candidates, vote. Even if you don't live in a swing state, vote. Even if you don't want to vote for president, vote in local elections. It doesn't matter what your excuse is — just go and and do it.
It's the one molecule of control you have over the situation, and psychologists have found that voting both actually makes you feel good and has a real impact, especially in local elections.
"By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle," the APA says.
So, yeah. Even as we hurtle through space and time into tumultuous unrest, there are still things you can do to ground yourself and remove yourself from the stress of the situation. You don't have to succumb to the country's collective unease, and you don't have to let yourself be controlled by the media's frenzied attempt to rile you up.
You can just be you — an American with a vote; an American who rises above, not below, the swirling doomsday vortex of November 8.