Election Anxiety: How to manage uncertainty and fear of the unknown

SPOKANE, Wash. — With Election Day fast approaching, some of you may be feeling anxiety creep in.

2020 has already been a tough year and the stakes are high. How do you keep your level of anxiety low?

If you’re experiencing election anxiety, you’re not alone.

The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted so many and the outcome of this year’s election — at the state and national level — has the power to do the same.

4 News Now spoke with a therapist who works in Providence’s RISE Program, Kristin Reiter.

She says there are clients and even other staff members that are experiencing anxiety about the upcoming election.

But it’s not just specific to the candidates or the issues on the ballot.

It’s a general fear of the unknown and thinking about the worst possible outcomes.

Some clients are worried about the future of COVID-19 regulations and how it will affect their personal and professional lives.

Whether or not they’ll lose health benefits, if their business can open back up, if their kids can go back-to-school — all of it hangs in the balance.

Symptoms of anxiety

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Kristin Reiter with Providence says everyone is likely feeling some type of anxiety right now.

But when it causes you to shut down, that’s when it’s serious.

“We’re not going outside the house, we’re not eating right, we’re not exercising, we’re not socializing, we’re avoiding everything. That’s when we say it’s affecting our functionality and that can also include panic attacks,” said Reiter. “And that’s when we want people to get in and probably get some professional help.”

She says the best way to manage your anxiety is by taking care of your body.

The pandemic has already taken a toll on people’s mental health and then there’s seasonal depression that kicks in for some this time of year.

Reiter says making a schedule for everything — meals, social time, physical activity and even time spent on social media — is a good way to manage your anxiety during this time.

Managing anxiety

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While staying informed and connected to others is important right now, it’s okay to limit it for your own health.

“Make sure you’re doing those things. Kind of almost forcing yourself to get out and exercise and socialize with people that we feel are safe that won’t necessarily try to engage us in a debate about politics,” said Reiter. “Setting boundaries with some of those people.”

The key to alleviating anxiety is controlling what you can.

If you’re struggling with your mental health and don’t know where to start, call 211 for assistance.

If what you’re doing now isn’t working for you, find out more about Providence’s RISE Program here.