Last night, I was one of the millions of Americans staying up late watching the election results slowly trickle in. The polls had suggested a possibility of a landslide victory for Biden, but it turned into a neck-and-neck race instead.
As I was finally planning to get some sleep, Trump addressed the country. He announced that he had won the election despite the fact that every news source in the country was still saying it was too close to call. Trump then went on to make ridiculous, baseless claims about Democrats attempting to steal the election.
We still don’t know when we’ll actually find out the results of the election, and no matter which way it goes, there are sure to be legal battles ahead. Even if Biden wins, we can expect Trump and many of his supporters to dispute the legitimacy of the election for the next four years.
And, of course, all of this is playing out over the backdrop of a year-long global pandemic which has killed over 1,200,000 people.
It’s understandable that stress and anxiety levels are running high right now. Last night, I even heard one of the news anchors recommending breathing exercises to the viewers.
It’s Okay To Be Anxious
I’ve had anxiety trouble throughout my life, and have spent time in therapy learning to manage my anxious feelings. I fixate on minor issues in my life, blow things out of proportion, and get stuck in thought loops that distract me from my day. These thoughts are disruptive and make no logical sense.
The anxiety that I’m feeling today — the anxiety that millions of us are feeling — is not that type of anxiety. The stress we’re all experiencing over this election isn’t irrational, and it isn’t a problem that can easily be fixed. No matter how many breathing exercises we do, the anxiety isn’t going to disappear.
We’re justifiably worried about how the rest of this election will play out. We are understandably anxious about what the next four years will bring. What happens now will have massive repercussions for our country and world. It’s okay to feel stressed.
Although it may help to do some anxiety-reducing exercises, we shouldn’t expect too much from them. Let’s not beat ourselves up if we’re feeling more stressed than usual this week, or if we aren’t able to get much done. In times like these, it’s normal to be less productive, less happy, and even less functional.
I’m going to be forgiving of myself this week when I’m not at my best. I’m also going to extend that forgiveness to friends, family, and strangers.
Let’s all take a few deep breaths together. But, let’s not be too surprised that we’re still feeling anxious afterward.