Self-care, empathy needed to get past 'post-election stress disorder,' expert says

Ben Henry
Updated: November 08, 2020 10:51 PM
Created: November 08, 2020 12:58 PM

No matter where you lived, 2020 has been a stressful year that played host to one of the most contentious election cycles of our lifetimes.

But, for us in the Twin Cities, we also dealt with the civil unrest that destroyed major parts of our cities. As we continue to navigate through what many hope is the end of this election season, mental health specialists worry about "post-election stress disorder."

For many, it started months ago with the political ads, followed by attack ads, stress about figuring out how to vote, actually voting and then waiting for the results. We're now faced with a murky transition of power because as of Sunday, President Donald Trump has not acknowledged his projected loss. 

Matthew Polacheck, outpatient director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, says "post-election stress disorder" is real for more than half of Americans. 

"Having this COVID disease, of having civil unrest, and this election really pushed us that breaking point," Polacheck said. 

It's a concept that may be easier said than done, but compromise and listening to those who have different viewpoints may help with that stress. 

"We have to think of both sides, and we have to have empathy and put ourselves in other people's shoes to know where they're coming from," Polacheck said. "We every day make decisions about our environment — the music we listen to, what we watch, who we talk to — even [with] who we talk to we can set boundaries on people who are unhealthy for us." 

On that note, he also said it's a matter of not worrying too much about what you can't control but to try to control what you can to make your environment as stress-free as possible.

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