How to stay balanced during Election 2020


Many of us are struggling with election overload. It’s difficult to escape the negative advertisements and tense moments in conversations and social media.

Focus on What You Can Control

While it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in our country and world, you need to take care of yourself and your mental health too. Notice if there’s a conflict between what the election is asking of you and what is best for your individual mental health. Instead of ruminating on potential bad outcomes, you can focus on what is within your control.

  • Think about how political content makes you feel when you consume it.
    • Find political content that is fact-based, reputable or uses primary sources rather than viewing memes or personal opinions on social media.
    • If you have increased stress, limit your political content intake for a bit.
    • If you’re feeling paralyzed or anxious, act. Do something constructive for a cause you believe in to help you feel better.
  • Engage in meaningful activities.
    • Find an activity you enjoy and do it, rather than fixating on news or social media coverage,
    • Get involved in issues that are meaningful to you.
    • Stay socially connected and lean on your friends when you’re feeling stressed.
    • Stay active – moving your body helps release stressful energy.
    • If you have a therapist, talk to them about your election feelings to help you manage.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings when sharing opinions. Avoid assumptions about other people and how they think. Anticipating differences in opinions can help prepare you for difficult conversations. Even for like-minded, politically-engaged folks, be aware that the other person might be trying to limit political exposure.
  • Be open to learning about other points of view. There are always reasons why people feel the way they do about certain issues or people. Consider using this cycle for conversations:
    • Ask open ended, genuinely curious, nonjudgmental questions.
    • Listen to what people you disagree with say. Deepen your understanding with follow-up inquiries.
    • Reflect back their perspective by summarizing their answers and noting underlying emotions.
    • Agree before disagreeing by naming ways in which you agree with their point of view.
    • Share your perspective by telling a story about a personal experience. People tend to best process stories, rather than logic.
  • Stay close to people you disagree with. Some fear that this election will divide our country further. Counteract this in your life by maintaining close relationships – even with those who don’t see eye to eye with you. Test out how it feels to stay friendly with acquaintances who support opposing candidates.
  • Plan an enjoyable event for after election day. Whatever happens with the election outcomes, life will go on, so planning an event will help reinforce that notion.
The United States flag flies near the Morehead Patterson Bell Tower
at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After Election Results

  • Be gracious in victory. If your candidate wins, be kind and compassionate to those who lose. It could have been you. We all have to live with each other a lot longer than the next 4 years.
  • Be mindful of media posts and consumption. Particularly if your candidate loses, consider a social media detox for a while. If your candidate wins, consider how your posts may affect people you care about that hoped for a different outcome.

Support Options for UNC Students

CAPS will host virtual support spaces for students who would like to discuss their feelings about the election results and connect with others experiencing similar situations. Dates and times for the virtual support services will be posted on the CAPS website.

As always, UNC students can connect with CAPS 24/7 at 919-966-3658 or reach out to any of the services and organizations available.

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