The recent general elections in the U.S.A. have stressed many people out. Whether the candidates they voted for (or for non-Americans, simply preferred) won in the recent elections or not, many people are reporting that they are feeling very anxious. Some feel that neither presidential candidate or major party is prepared to address their concerns (such as the economy, climate change, natural security, health care). The elections brought these issues to the fore. Many are having difficulty understanding the behavior of the candidates, the parties, and large swaths of the electorate.
Many are therefore reporting more difficulty than usual falling asleep.
Or perhaps you are not bothered by the elections, but feel some stress about the upcoming Thanksgiving, or personal issues. Regardless, we have several suggestions to deal with stressors.
- When faced with a stressor, particularly when the situation is difficult to understand, it is helpful to engage in open-minded “sense-making”. Journaling can help you make sense of a situation. Here you write your thoughts, formulate questions, and gradually try to answer them. Reading shallow news articles can be stressful. It is important to choose high caliber and useful sources of information, and to process worthwhile information deeply. (See Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective for tips on selecting and processing information.) Making sense of stressful situations promotes happiness. It also helps one deal with future stressors.
- To gain a scientifically-based perspective on how the stories we tell ourselves affect our well-being, and how to improve our narratives, read Timothy Wilson’s Redirect.
- Cultivate empathy, even for people with whom you disagree or are angry, or that you fear (without letting that prevent you from taking necessary action).
- Cultivate clear, broad, deep, sound, strategic, systematic and rigorous thinking. Be curious, consider other points of view.
- Participate in a reasonable, open-minded organization that is attempting to improve the lives of others, whether it be on a local, state-wide, national or international scale. Research suggests that having a purpose in life is conducive to happiness (and can help one deal with stressors).
- Develop a sense of personal efficacy, which is conducive to optimism (Read Bandura’s Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control). Research shows that self-efficacy is conducive to productive action, and optimism is conducive to happiness (and can help one deal with stressors). (Self-efficacy is also discussed in Cognitive Productivity.)
You may then want to read our tips for better sleep.