How Are You Coping with Voter Fatigue?
I’ve seen election ads hundreds of times by now. Every time they come on, I feel my body getting tense. Times are tough, and I don’t need an election ad to remind me of that fact.
The election is almost upon us. But it’s not over yet. There’s still plenty of advertisements and news coverage to come in the coming weeks.
I’m so tired of it all. I already voted. I’m over it. But the election ads and news coverage continue. And I’m feeling stressed about it all.
This one’s pretty simple and straightforward. I’ve been distracting myself from election ads and the news by focusing on other things.
I read books, write articles, journal, go for walks, cook . . . all kinds of healthy activities distract me from stressful events in the media.
The key here is to bring your full attention to whatever distracting task you’re engaging in. So, if I go for a walk but my thoughts are all about the election, that’s not going to help. I’ve got to engage the present moment by paying attention to what’s happening around me.
When you’re fully engaged in a healthy activity, it can help distract you from the election or anything else that’s distressing you.
I love these. Again, they’re pretty straightforward. All you do is think thoughts that help you cope with a situation.
So, for the election, I keep thinking:
“This too shall pass.”
That’s an oldie but a goodie. And it really does help me to keep things in perspective and remember that whatever’s happening right now, it won’t last forever. There is an end in sight.
Opposite action might sound complicated, but it’s really not. To practice it, you simply act in a way that is the opposite of your unpleasant feelings.
So, if I’m feeling overwhelmed by election coverage, I probably want to slump my shoulders, maybe quicken my breathing. In other words, I’ll have a flight-fight-or-freeze response.
But if I can be conscious of my reaction and choose the opposite action as a coping skill, I will deliberately do the opposite of my emotion. So if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’d put my shoulders back, open my chest, breathe deeply, and engage in the present moment.
Note: engaging in the present moment could include walking away from a stressful situation and choosing to focus on something else, like a distracting activity.
Look, times are stressful and uncertain right now. I hope these DBT skills help you — I think they can help anyone who’s feeling stressed, whether you’re in therapy or not.