Election got you stressed? Here's how to dial down your anxiety

Emory School of Medicine and Grady psychologist Dr. Nadine Kaslow says she's been hearing all day from patients and friends who are stressed about the 2020 Presidential Election.

"The waiting, the uncertainty, the not knowing," Kaslow says. "People have talked about election stress disorder, and, I think, what we're experiencing now is post-election stress disorder, but there's no post-election!"

The election cliffhanger comes in the middle of a pandemic, at a time the country is sharply divided.

"It's not just anxiety," she says. "I think people are feeling overwhelmed, and trying to figure out, what does this mean?  What does it mean to be American?"

In a year in which nothing has felt normal, Dr. Kaslow says, anxiety is taking a physical and mental toll on many of us.

"You're going to see some people get more depressed, some people get more anxious, and some people get more angry," she says. "Whatever our default option is, that's what we're going to do. I'm concerned by how many people are saying, 'I spent last night drinking. I'm hungover today. I am going to spend tonight drinking.'”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Kaslow recommends cutting back on watching the election coverage and limit your time on social media.

You want to stay informed, she says, but you don’t want to get fixated on the numbers.

"That's going to be different for each one of us, but watching the same information over and over and over again is not helping anybody," she says. "So, [you're] figuring out for yourself, does that mean you look every hour? Does that mean you only look at the end of the day?  What does that mean for you?  What do you need to do for your mental health?"

Some voters have created text message groups with friends, to update and console one another, an idea, Dr. Kaslow says, can help you feel more connected.

She also recommends taking breaks during the day to do things you enjoy that have nothing to do with politics.

"Whether that's exercise, reading, being out in nature, hanging out with friends, whatever really helps you calm down, whatever helps you get grounded, that's what I encourage people to do," Kaslow says. "That's what I'm trying my best to do."