Clinical psychologist offers advice on how to manage election stress

Updated: Nov. 2, 2020 at 9:10 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - LSU Health Clinical Psychologist Michelle Moore, PsyD, says it’s normal to feel stress around election time, especially when you consider all that’s happened in 2020.

“Just like the pandemic feels like it’s outside of people’s control, Mother Nature has things outside of our control. That’s where the anxiety really gets heightened and comes from,” said Dr. Moore.

And, as election returns roll in, she says it’s also normal to have intense emotions.

“Then it’s a matter of how do you calm yourself down? How do you bring your heart rate down? How do you bring your mind down, when your mind has a lot of things going on, to bring yourself back to a calm place,” said Moore.

We spoke with voters who tell us they’ve been feeling anxiety ahead of the election, and they expect that to continue Tuesday.

“I don’t think I’m expecting an answer tomorrow, but I am hoping it will be quick and won’t take super, super, long because I think that anticipation and anxiety is just going to make everyone feel worse,” said Jenn Estiverne of New Orleans.

“It is going to take time to make sure everyone’s vote is counted and that voices are heard. It shouldn’t be instantaneous. If they are taking the time to do all of that, which is very nerve-wracking, but important,” said Lydia Hill of New Orleans.

Fox 8 Political Analyst Mike Sherman says most likely by the end of Tuesday, Americans will have a good idea of who won the election.

“There are certainly some possibilities that pundits enjoy talking about where we have to wait for those states that are counting absentee ballots, but it’s most likely that we are going to be able to go to sleep tomorrow night and know who the next president of the United States will be,” said Sherman. “For folks that think back to 2000, Bush vs. Gore and hanging chads in Florida, that was a peacefully decided process by the Supreme Court of the United States. It took some time, but it was a peaceful transition of power. A lot of the anxiety is the unknown, that this may not be a peaceful transition. Around the world, we see many non-peaceful transitions, but we’ve never had that in modern American history.”

Dr. Moore offers this advice for coping with any election stress you may feel:

“Keeping in mind that for some people, talking things through can feel like relief, but for others, when you start talking about it, you may find yourself getting more worked up, more agitated. If you notice that, that’s when you need to step out of that conversation and just take the deep breaths and kind of slow your body down,” Dr. Moore said.

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