The First Parish Blog

Alleviating Our Election Anxiety

By , Published on November 2, 2016

It’s all over the media and in the public discourse – this year’s election is causing many people great anxiety.  According to a Harris Poll survey, more than half of all Americans experience significant stress around the 2016 election.  This is true across all ages groups although it seems to impact the “Matures” (71+) and the “Millennials” (19-37) most. With this data in mind, Reverend Catie and I held a gathering for church members who wanted to talk about and find ways to cope with this stress that emphasized a spiritual and holistic approach.  Participants were asked to share and actively listen to one another as we addressed three questions – What are two conflicting feelings you’re holding right now? What has been helping you cope with election anxiety? What do you need right now to help with your anxiety?  

We also offered a number of resources, including Five Habits of the Heart that Help Make Democracy Possible published by the Center for Courage and Renewal.  This piece, adapted from a larger work by Parker Palmer, advocates for a focused approach to Democracy that is both loving and accepting.  

Other resources that you may find helpful as you deal with your own election anxiety (and beyond) include:

  • Press release from the American Psychological Association (APA) offering some specific strategies as well as more data on election anxiety.
  • Many mainstream media sources such as Time, The Atlantic, WBUR and the Huffington Post offer their own (and experts’) strategies.
  • Some meditation applications on your phone may be just the thing you need. Check out the Insight Timer and Headspace for two good (and free) options.

In general, some of the advice you’ll find is simple and straightforward;

  • Limit media usage, especially social media
  • Go to your ‘happy space’ be it the garden, your art studio, in front of the fireplace with a good book, etc.
  • Agree not to specifically discuss the election with those friends, colleagues and family members who may not share your political position.
  • Come to church!


Mark LaPointe, Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration

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