How To Cope with Election Anxiety
By Rachel Parodneck, LMSW
As the election looms imminently closer, it seems New Yorkers are all holding our collective breaths and wracked with anxiety. Session after session, clients come in fearing the results of the election. Whether red or blue, it seems this election that whatever the outcome, a large number of people are going to be feeling a wide range of emotions: scared, angry, sad, and confused just to name a few. The fact that we are down to the wire makes the tension and anxiety palpable. You can feel it in the air walking around NYC.
It seems everyone is talking about politics—from your standard water cooler talk (or Zoom these days), to family group chats, and even your Instagram feed. It is impossible to ignore that there is about to be a monumental decision made. With that in mind, we are here to arm you with a few tools to help cope with your feelings about the election:
Radical Acceptance is a tenet of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). This is a form of distress tolerance. We are certainly in a time that is to say the least, very distressing for a lot of folks. Radical acceptance is not agreeing with what is happening or giving up; it is coming to terms with the situation at hand and accepting that it is something we cannot change.
The official DBT website writes that radical acceptance “is about being present and not resisting whatever you’re experiencing in this moment. Cognitively, you might experience a change of perspective that might stir your actions in another, more positive direction. Thus, you’ll release the energy that was previously spent on uncomfortable emotions and thoughts and you’ll be more able to make a proactive plan for change.”
There is further information and worksheets that can be very helpful in grasping this concept here: https://dialecticalbehaviortherapy.com/distress-tolerance/radical-acceptance/
With radical acceptance comes making a proactive plan. “If it is something that doesn’t affect you in a significant way, then it might be enough for you just to practice radical acceptance and gradually come to terms with the event. On the other hand, if it is something that has affected you in a way that is not optimal for you, then try to think of how you can improve this situation.”
Take actions: Ways to improve the situation can look different for everyone. For some people this may mean getting involved. Make your voice heard and VOTE! After that, taking action can be volunteering: writing postcards to voters, making calls or texts to potential voters in swing states, or signing up to volunteer at the polls for early voting and/or Election Day. Those are just a few ways to jump into action. Some people may choose to volunteer with a local governing official or even run for office themselves!
Reach out for support: A diverse support system is essential in coping with difficult life events. If you have family and friends, don’t be afraid to reach out and let them know what is on your mind. There is no need to keep your emotions bottled up inside. Chances are that the people you reach out to are experiencing similar difficulties and can relate.
Make an appointment with a Refresh clinician:There has literally never been a better time to seek therapy than today. Check out our available providers on our website and make an appointment using this link: https://refreshtherapynyc.clientsecure.me/request/clinician
If you do nothing else, don’t forget to vote! You can share your voting sticker or posts by tagging yourself and using the hashtag #RefreshVotes
Dialectical Behavior Therapy website. Distress Tolerance: Radical Acceptance. Retrieved from: