Managing election stress, tips from the experts

Updated: Nov. 2, 2020 at 8:23 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Less than 24-hours away from Election Day, between deciding who will earn your vote and just getting to the polls, stress could very easily show up in your life.

The American Heart Association says stress is “aggression against the body,” which could be coming from within-like a disease or ailment-or from your environment. When the body feels attacked, it activates the “fight-or-flight,” reaction, releasing adrenaline and increasing cortisol levels."

Jesse D. Lambert, PsyD, MP, a volunteer expert for the American Heart Association, says stress can manifest over time, affecting people both mentally and physically.

For some individuals, stress might manifest itself through headaches, fatigue, and insomnia.

Dr. Lambert says overtime chronic; uncontrolled stress can lead to several factors, “If left untreated or if allowed to remain for an extended person of time you can see the development of various physical difficulties such as heart disease, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal difficulties, and other problems.”

According to the AMA, “Even minor everyday stressors can affect our bodies. A 2018 nationwide study found lingering negative feelings caused by daily stressors were associated with more chronic conditions 10 years later. The study stressed the importance of effectively recovering from stress.”

Dr. Lambert says individuals should seek help if the stress is becoming unmanageable.

The following are tips to manage stress levels, according to the AMA:

Exercise - Being active creates a natural high and can help combat negative feelings. Regular physical activity has been shown to relieve stress, tension, anxiety, and depression.

Maintain social connections - Connect with others and talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling. While social distancing, people can make time to video chat, talk on the phone, or take part in online communities to talk through the sources of stress.

Make time to unwind - Take part in activities that bring you joy and explore new hobbies.

Limit news intake - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories that address issues about the pandemic. Too much exposure can be upsetting.

Get plenty of sleep - Given the change in schedules and routines, people may find they are experiencing sleep disruptions. But since sufficient sleep is important for stress management, it can be helpful to establish a new bedtime routine and stay as close to it as you can daily.

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