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How to deal with election anxiety if your candidate loses

Tips on how to deal with election anxiety if your candidate loses
Posted at 10:44 AM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-05 09:50:06-05

The lines are long, the anxiety is high. Election 2020 looks and feels a lot different, doesn’t it?

The influx of ads all over your TV, the outpouring of robotexts to your phone—the candidates, going back and forth.

Deep breaths, everyone. Election 2020 is technically almost over.

According to the American Psychological Association’s latest survey, nearly 70% of adults said the election is a significant source of stress.

Compare that to the 2016 election, when 52% of adults said they were that stressed.

And voters aren’t just stressed about their candidate winning or losing—there’s also so much confusion about filling out your ballot correctly or possible unrest after the results.

Dr. Francoise Adan is a psychiatrist at University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network. She said election anxiety is especially tough right now because it’s coupled with pandemic stress, racial unrest, and personal losses in 2020.

Mental health experts are preparing for an influx of calls in the days after the election, just as they did in 2016.

“I saw a lot of people who were disappointed and sad and angry,” Adan said. “And of course, we also saw a lot of people who rejoiced and celebrated—but those are not the people who are going to ask for help.”

Adan said feelings of sadness, disappointment, grief, fear and even mourning if your candidate loses are normal.

But for some people, those feelings are going to be really profound and interfere with daily activities—and that’s when Adan said it’s important to seek professional help for your mental health.

For others, Adan said, self-care is key—yes, you’ve heard that over and over again, but that’s because it works.

“And you need to find the one that works for you. It could be exercising, meditation, breathing techniques. Gratitude is one of my favorites,” she said.

The doctor also recommends a heavy dose of compassion, no matter the results.

“Not only compassion for others and understanding that yes, some people are winners and some people are going to lose—but at the end of the day, we are all in this together. And not only have compassion for others but compassion for ourselves,” Adan said.

Voters we spoke to said no matter the outcome they’ll take it all in stride.

“What am I going to do if my candidate loses? I’m going to support whoever is there,” said voter Caroline Rogers. “I’m going to believe and hope that this person that we end up electing, whether it be somebody I voted for or not, that they’re going to do what’s best for the country as a whole.”

“Accept the outcome,” a voter named Genesis said. “It’s one America, regardless of who you vote for. You accept the results and you follow that person.”

Looking at historical perspective is always helpful, Adan said. Americans have been through worse — and made it out stronger.

“Eventually we will look at this and say ‘Whew, we made it, and we are better for it.'"

This story was first reported by Homa Bash at WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio.