The outcome of the 2020 election may have impacted your mental health, especially so depending on where you live and if your candidate won the election. Many Americans invest much of their time and money into their candidate and the party they represent. Sharp family rifts can form, leaving families feeling completely divided. We have access to never-ending news cycles that both belittle and support their candidate. The American Psychological Association (APA) reported that 68 percent of U.S. adults said that the 2020 election contributed to a significant amount of stress in their lives. For too many Americans, the stress of the election can become a force that affects every aspect of life.
The mental health of many Americans was already unstable as the election approached. The election itself brought stress that compounded with the many other contributing factors that Americans were struggling with in 2020. The election and its outcome can feel like the cherry on top of an already disastrous year.
The Pandemic and the Election
In 2020, Americans struggled with a pandemic that disrupted nearly every aspect of their lives. We were forced to be isolated in our homes with minimal access to their normal routines. Those who were able started working from home, giving them more time to watch TV or scroll through social media. The excessive time spent online or in front of the TV has a strong negative impact on mental health. For many people, these past four years have been heavy, regardless of which party you may support. Adding an election to the stresses of 2020 put many Americans into overdrive, resulting in a perfect storm of rapidly-declining mental health nationwide.
The attitudes of President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden towards the pandemic also increased stress levels for the American people, leaving them to feel powerless and hopeless. Each candidate had a different approach to the pandemic, which played a significant role in how many Americans decided to vote.
2020 Just Kept Coming
Some of us lost our loved ones this year, whether due to COVID-19 or other issues. Many people were denied a chance to say goodbye to loved ones who passed away in hospitals or senior living homes due to safety regulations that were put into place. When you lose someone dear to your heart, you can experience symptoms related to depression and hopelessness. With limited access to resources and fewer healthy outlets, many people experienced depressive symptoms which only worsened over time.
2020 saw people miss important milestones altogether. If they were celebrated at all, it was much different than most people imagined for themselves. Graduations were canceled, college campuses were closed, and internships were no longer available, leaving young Americans struggling with loss and increasing anxiety. By the end of June, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported a spike in anxiety medications prescribed to young adults in the United States.
The Political Climate Got Worse
In 2020, the U.S. experienced numerous tragedies of racial injustice that continuously led headlines and shocked the world. These issues disproportionately impacted minorities across America and caused turmoil throughout the entire country.
Americans were directly impacted by the political climate all year long, leaving us in a vulnerable and unstable state of mind. Social change, COVID-19, and an ugly political climate presented many new stresses and challenges for people all over the country. Individuals reported a marked increase in stress levels, anxiety, and an overall feeling of sadness towards the election and its results. Here are a few tips that can be helpful for managing your mental health during these trying times:
Avoid or Limit Access to Headlines
Now is the time to avoid or limit the time you spend following anything political. Whether or not your candidate won, the country’s political climate is still chaotic. If you are worried that you’ll miss an important development, have someone you trust to keep you informed about updates they think would be important for you to know. Staying informed should not come at the cost of negatively impacting your mood. Being informed is useful, but right now, the most important thing is caring for your mental well-being. This way, you can get to a healthy state, from which you can deal with the election results and the ongoing state of the country.
Write It Down
Journaling is a great coping mechanism that’s readily available to anyone. Putting your thoughts and emotions on paper can help you to express what you are going through internally. When we struggle to verbally express ourselves, journaling can be an effective tool for getting those thoughts out.
Embrace What’s In Your Control
If your candidate did not win the presidency this election, try not to let it weigh you down – that outcome is out of your control. Politics are messy, and most things that go on within the operations of our government are entirely out of our control. Create a list of things that you do have control over. Revisit this list and engage in mindfulness activities to help you focus on the present while reducing negative emotions that can arise from dwelling on the unalterable.
Feel It And Let It Go
It’s normal and healthy to be experiencing negative emotions if your candidate did not win this election. Let yourself feel those feelings. Give yourself permission to be sad or disappointed for some time, and then move on. Harboring those negative feelings is what’s unhealthy. Americans who are debating issues that hit close to their hearts are, understandably, more likely to be personally invested in the outcomes of political events. Being deeply invested in these issues is also likely to impact your mental health. These experiences and feelings are real and normal. Actively seek out peer support to discuss these topics in a healthy, safe space, so that you can acknowledge and give space to your emotions without letting them weigh you down and fester.
Chances are that at some point this year, the election negatively affected your emotions. If the 2020 election impacted your mental health, prevented you from performing normal functions, or made you feel hopeless to the point of isolating yourself, it might be time to reach out for help. This year has been troubling for so many Americans. It has been a year full of never-ending turmoil, leaving many of us feeling overstressed, exhausted, and completely helpless. The lack of available resources and the inability to engage in coping mechanisms like meeting with friends or working out in a gym have intensified negative emotions for so many people. This election may be over, but many people are still struggling with the outcome. No matter how bleak things may seem, there are ways for you to gain control over your mental well-being. We can help you during this difficult time. Call Everlast Recovery Centers at 866-DETOX-25.