How to Cope with Election Anxiety

How to Cope with Election Anxiety

The 2022 Midterm Elections are right around the corner. Do you have a voting plan? How about a “coping with election anxiety” plan?

Election season can stir up anxiety for many of us because electing new public leaders can offer us hope for a better future or leave us with a sense of dread about a future we fear may be on the horizon.

You might have been taught not to have discussions about politics “in polite company,” but of course, politics aren’t just a highfalutin topic of conversation. Politics are personal and deeply consequential. For communities most impacted by the choices of decision-makers, including queer and trans folks, low-income families, BIPOC individuals, and people with uteruses making reproductive healthcare decisions, there is so much on the line.

With tensions running especially high in the political realm these days, it’s no surprise that you might be feeling some election-related anxiety. All this might leave you wondering, when so much is at stake how do I carry on?

Follow these skillful steps to take care of yourself and your community this November:

Cope ahead with a self-care plan

If you’re already feeling some anticipatory anxiety about the election results, you might find election night and the days that follow to feel particularly difficult. You’ll be better able to manage election day emotions if you plan ahead.

Consider how you have successfully coped with stress in the past. What activities have distracted you, soothed you, and brought you back to baseline? It’s a good idea to plan those activities into your day and the days that follow.

Perhaps you’re comforted by cooking a favorite meal or baking a favorite family recipe. Maybe you find a walk outside in the crisp fall air grounds you. You might have a feel-good show that you know you can cozy up with or light reading that’s been sitting on your nightstand waiting for you. If it reliably calms you in times of stress, plan on making it part of your election day.

Mindfully engage with election news

As the election draws near and results are confirmed, you might consider limiting your social media use and news consumption. Yes, it is important to be an engaged and informed voter. And it’s equally important that you take care of yourself enough so that you can stay engaged in the future.


It is helpful to set boundaries for yourself around media consumption. Here are some guidelines that might feel right for you:

  • I’m taking the day (or week) off of social media on election day
  • I’ll check [news source of choice] for 10 minutes on my lunch break and for 10 minutes before dinner
  • I’ll turn on [news station of choice] for 20 minutes after polls close
  • I’ll read/listen to the daily news round up from [news source of choice] an hour before bed, but then I’m tuning out for the night

Whether you decide to set news consumption boundaries ahead of time or not, consider tuning into your body while you’re listening/watching/reading your news source of choice. Is your anxiety elevated? Is your heart racing? Are you holding your breath?  If so, your body might be asking for a break from the deluge of information. Now’s a good time to silence your notifications and refer to your cope ahead plan!

Connect with your people

Social support can make all the difference when emotions run high and technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected. Too much of a good thing can also be overwhelming and, just like doom-scrolling, doom-texting can increase apprehension  and dread. Think about who in your support network you want to engage with on election day and what that will look like. Do you want to:

  • Have a small get together with your favorite snacks at the ready
  • Have a group text chain going with trusted friends
  • Mindfully let folks know that you’ll be silencing your phone and have some me-time on election day instead
  • Organize a video chat gathering with a few safe people in your life to watch election results roll in together

Connecting with safe, trusted people in your life can offer comfort and solace. Should you decide to gather or meet virtually with others on election day, you may decide to share your cope ahead plan or news and media boundaries with these friends so that they can support you in putting  your plan into action during high-stress moments.

Put election anxiety into action

If you don’t already have a voting day plan, making one can actually be part of your plan for coping with election anxiety! While there’s a lot you cannot control, including the ultimate outcome of the election, it can be helpful when managing anxiety to remember what is within your power.

If you’re eligible to vote, you have the power to have your voice heard through your vote. Prepare for election day by coming up with a plan for casting your voting! How do you plan to vote: in-person, by mail, via ballot dropbox? Do you know where your polling place is? Will you head to the polls before work, during lunch, after work?

You can visit to check your voter registration status, find an early voting location, locate your polling place, or see a sample ballot ahead of casting your vote.

Think ahead to future election cycles and get involved now by applying to serve as an Election Judge or visiting the website of your favorite candidate and signing up to volunteer for their campaign! Campaigns often have a range of volunteer activities from texting and calling voters to knocking on doors.

If you can put your anxious energy to work as a poll worker or volunteer, you might find you’re able to redirect your anxiety into excitement or else soothe your anxious thoughts with the knowledge that you played a key role.

Election anxiety is real and so is your ability to cope with it. We all know the airplane metaphor: you have to put your own mask on before you can help others. In order to stay civically engaged, it’s important to start with taking care of yourself first! By planning ahead, setting boundaries, connecting with trusted people, and taking action, you can cope with stress and anxiety during election season!

Wildflower Center for Emotional Health is a therapy practice with offices in Chicago (River North) and Oak Park, IL. We offer in-person services at each of our locations as well as online therapy to anyone in Illinois. We specialize in perinatal and reproductive health, trauma and PTSD, anxiety and depression, relationships, sex and intimacy concerns, and more.Learn More