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Mental health expert shares tips on quelling election anxiety

Posted at 2:44 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 21:44:17-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The uncertainties still surrounding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election are accompanied by a feeling of anxiety for many Americans over what the results could mean for the fate of the nation.

And as people remain glued to their browsers and television sets watching results continue to trickle in, Dr. Shannon Sauer-Zavala, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Kentucky and is the director of clinical services at the UK Clinic for Emotional Health, said it is important to remember the fine line between being well-informed and oversaturated with information.

She said setting limits one way to avoid oversaturation.

"(Tell yourself) 'I'm gonna turn this off in 15 minutes, and I'm not allowed to come back to it for another two hours and if something really important happened somebody will text me.'" Sauer-Zavala said.

While it might be unrealistic for some people to delete social media accounts completely, Sauer-Zavala said simply leaving your phone behind for a bit could help people separate from some of their anxieties.

"I think it would be it would be almost impossible for me to suggest like, 'Oh like delete Facebook from your phone,'" she said. "This is just kind of the way we live now so we sort of have to work around it, but I would (ask), 'Is it possible to plug your phone in or leave it in your purse instead of taking it out on your desk?' You know, kind of separate physically from it."

Sauer-Zavala also stressed the importance of only focusing on things that are within your control.

"A lot of times we get stuck in this, 'It's going to be so bad it's going to be so bad, and I'm not saying it won't be bad, necessarily, but we don't think about next week, next month, next year, right?" she said. "What can you do to cope personally for yourself and what can you do to make the changes in the world that you were hoping to see, as a function of this election."

And perhaps most importantly: Get some sleep.

"If your person exercises, don't stop while you're waiting for this election to finish an exercise," Sauer-Zavala said. "If you're a person that goes to bed at 9:15, don't start staying up till midnight, go to bed. Get your eight hours."