As we gear up for the upcoming presidential debates there’s no doubt that campaigning, punditry, and 24/7 news will lead to anxiety, and lots of it. Adding to this of course is the COVID-19 pandemic, racial tensions, and the debate over whether a candidate should or shouldn’t be nominated to the Supreme Court following the passing of the late Justice Ginsburg. This election, which at times has looked more like a reality TV show than it has a race for the highest office in the land, will surely get uglier.  

I’m hearing from clients about their increased stress and anxiety. For some, they get so riled up watching the cable news shows that they can’t settle down at night and sleep or focus during the day.  For others their relationships are on the rocks due to political differences, and still others are so disturbed by the mere thought of a President Trump or President Biden that they are drinking or indulging in junk food to deal with their emotions. 

Here are my tips on how to make it through until November 3:

1. Take action. If you don’t like a candidate then instead of complaining or ranting online about him, get involved. Hand out fliers, make calls, and work at a polling station. Do something productive. 

2. Unplug. In the era of 24/7 news coverage and social media, it’s hard to avoid an inflammatory tweet, a Facebook post suggesting a conspiracy theory, or a far left or right wing news source spewing propaganda. Pick a time to disconnect from all media (I’d suggest one hour before bed time) and up to that point pick one news source and stick with it. Schedule time to get caught up on the latest and don’t check constantly. Catching up on the most recent news in the morning, evening, and night is more than adequate.

3. Set boundaries with people. You don’t have to engage in political discussions with colleagues, friends, and relatives. These can be contentious. Feel okay simply saying “I prefer not to discuss politics” and leave it at that. 

4. Stick with the facts. Rather than getting caught up in hyperbole and sensationalism be a good researcher and gather the facts about a candidate’s position. It’s easy to grab on to bits of information and run with it just because you dislike a candidate – but doing this will only instill and reinforce your fear and anxiety – and might even have a contagion effect. 

5. Vote. If you don’t vote, then don’t complain post-election. We live in a democracy. Exercise your right to vote and celebrate the liberties and freedoms you have. 

6. Take a step back. Look at the big picture. Sure this is a contentious election and we’re hearing more name calling than ever before, but keep things in perspective: there’s a system in place for a smooth transfer of power and our Nation has been able to do this for over 200 years.

For more tips on living a healthy stress free life check out my book Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

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  • Jonathan Alpert

    Psychotherapist, executive performance coach, and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. Twitter: @JonathanAlpert

    Jonathan Alpert is a psychotherapist, columnist, performance coach and author in Manhattan. As a psychotherapist, he has helped countless couples and individuals overcome a wide range of challenges and go on to achieve success. He discussed his results-oriented approach in his 2012 New York Times Opinion piece, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already”, which continues to be debated and garner international attention. Alpert is frequently interviewed by major TV, print and digital media outlets and has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, FOX, and Good Morning America discussing current events, mental health, hard news stories, celebrities/politicians, as well as lifestyle and hot-button issues. He appears in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job commenting on the financial crisis. With his unique insight into how people think and their motivations, Alpert helps clients develop and strengthen their brands. He has been a spokesperson for NutriBullet, Liberty Mutual insurance, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Jonathan’s 2012 book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days has been translated into six languages worldwide. Alpert continues to provide advice to the masses through his, Huffington Post, and Thrive columns. @JonathanAlpert