1. Research information on your own
When it comes to debriefing after an election, one of the most important ways to reduce the stress you may be feeling is to research information on your own, form your own opinions and don’t let other outside opinions influence or shape yours. When we get too caught up in others’ opinions, we often limit ourselves from the wide scope of information that is available to us. We think, “Well because my best friend thinks that way or because my parents told me this, they must be right.” The fact is, there is no “right” or “wrong,” and others’ opinions don’t always align with our own views and values. Being able to construct our own personal opinions is one of our fundamental rights as citizens — so do your own research. Look into the elected president’s policies, open your perspectives and establish your opinion based on the information you collect.
2. Go directly to the source
After the election, when you stumble upon political actors’, celebrities’ or other people’s posts who have a large pull in the public media sphere, make sure you additionally go directly to the source. While we may feel inclined to trust a politician or celebrity who we are a fan of, they may not always be correct in their dissemination of information about the elected candidate. Be sure to validate the information by visiting the elected candidate’s website, reviewing their social media pages and checking news stories from sources you trust in order to avoid being swayed by misinformation.
3. Fact check what you read, watch or listen to
While the internet is an incredible tool and resource, it can sometimes misguide us and place information in front of us that reinforces our preexisting political beliefs. Every time we click, watch, browse or share something, search engines and social media platforms take note of this and use algorithms to create a personalization of information that caters towards what we ‘like,’ or rather, what the internet thinks we like. Author Eli Pariser refers to this as a “filter bubble” — “personal ecosystems of information which fundamentally alter the way we encounter ideas and information.” Before accepting things at face value, such as news articles or social media posts, be sure to conduct some further research and review information and don’t be afraid to look at the topic from different perspectives.
4. Take a break from social media
Chances are, most of you have some sort of social media account, whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or TikTok. Social media can be madly addicting, and it isn’t always the best thing for our mental health. Likely every time you accessed social media in the past couple of months, your feed has been filled with information that can be hateful, upsetting and rumor-ridden. It can be stressful scrolling through immense amounts of social media posts filled with controversy, disputes and conflicting conversations. After the election, this political uproar will only continue. Remind yourself to take a break from social media every once in a while and focus on information from sources that don’t bring you this type of stress and anxiety.
5. Establish a news routine
We are all very busy — whether it be with school, jobs, sports, extracurricular activities or clubs — and it may feel overwhelming to engage with the news every day. That said, it’s still vital to remain informed. I suggest that you incorporate a news routine into your schedule that also sets limits. For example, make it a priority that every morning you read over the latest headlines in the news for 15 minutes or subscribe to a news channel that sends you a daily recap of news stories via email. This will make it significantly easier to stay informed while eliminating stress.
6. Limit unhealthy political discussion
While it can be informative and valuable to have political discussions and listen to others’ opinions, especially when their views contrast with your own, it can also be difficult and stress-invoking to openly relay your beliefs and opinions to someone who is attacking you or undermining your perspectives and thoughts. If you find yourself in a situation when others are getting inflamed over politics, whether it be in a large group or in a one-on-one discussion, simply leave the room or politely tell the other person you do not want to broach the subject any further.
7. Find news sources you trust
Even now that voting is over, it is still just as important to turn to credible news sources that you trust in order to establish a political environment that is informative. No matter your political affiliation, there are plenty of sources that report trustworthy and accurate information. Finding news sources that report objectively is necessary to help diminish the stress that stems from reviewing conflicting, unreliable and false information. If you are questioning the reliability of your news sources, research them to discover how reputable and trustworthy they are. This will help you to determine whether the source is accurate or whether it is known for distributing biased news.
8. Focus on the issues at hand rather than the scandals
As human beings, we tend to get tied up in political scandals or negative news stories that circulate about political leaders. In order to diminish some of the stress that these stories can arouse, it is important for us to focus on the actual issues at hand rather than the scandalous stories that focus on the elected candidate’s personal life, instead of their plans of how to run the country. When reading up on news stories that spread about the elected candidate, try to remember that there are multiple sides to every story and the news we come into contact with does not always accurately depict the candidate’s personal life.
9. Learn to talk to people you disagree with politically
Regardless of your political standing, it is important to facilitate constructive discussion with those you disagree with politically. When we start to guide conservations about this sensitive topic in a more positive, useful direction, it becomes clear that this can help us to reduce the political stress that often stems from unhealthy discussions with people whom we disagree with. Finding common ground is one tool that I have found particularly useful in guiding a political conversation in a more positive direction. Instead of reacting strongly to others’ opinions, try to find a topic on which you share the same viewpoint and agree in order to facilitate more productive conversations that incorporate healthy sharing of opinions and active listening.
10. Don’t let your frustration get the best of you
Whether or not your preferred candidate is elected, it is important to not let your frustration get the best of you. It is valid to feel frustrated if the elected candidate does not support matters that you feel strongly passionate about, considering our political beliefs are a larger part of our identities. Although, in order to control this frustration it is important to find alternative ways to get involved and support matters that you feel strongly about, especially if they are not significantly represented in the elected candidate’s policy goals. For example, if you feel strongly about gun control or climate change, find ways to get involved by joining a lobbying organization or promoting ways to help the environment to people in your community.