Anxious about the election? North Carolina therapist says 'election stress' is real and you're not alone

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- If you are feeling any one of the following symptoms related to the election: stress, anxiety, or depression, you might be under the duress of election stress.

"There is a lot of conflict within families that I don't recall seeing four years ago for sure," said licensed marriage and family therapist Jeanie Chang.

Chang owns Your Change Provider, a Cary-based practice for counseling and therapy.

Chang agrees this year is different when it comes to what she is helping her clients work through.

"A lot has happened this year," said Chang. "We're very escalated right now because of COVID. And I think this year happens to be particularly contentious."

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Chang believes the good news from the recent events and spotlight on the November election is the amount of civic engagement she is seeing, especially among Asian-Americans, who she believes generally are not as engaged.

While there is a difference between mental health and mental illness, Chang hopes people ditch the stigma and take care of themselves. "Find some help," she said. "Sometimes it only takes one visit to just feel validated that what you're going through is normal."

Chang suggested finding someone who is a trained clinical provider, as they will help you process your emotions.

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The stress is also related to each party's candidates and issues surrounding abortion, gay rights, the Supreme Court vacancy, civil unrest and police reform, among others. Each election brings about undecided voters struggling to make a choice.

"If you believe in something, emotionally speaking, your mental health will take a hit if you don't follow through with what you believe in," Chang said.

Chang suggested the following tips to help address mental health.

  • Put on your oxygen mask
  • Look at what is already working
  • Practice reflective listening
  • Affirm, reflect and summarize what is being said


"Focus on deep breathing because your brain stops thinking for you when you're stressed because you don't breathe effectively," Chang said. "Look at when you're not stressed. When things are going well, when you're able to have discussions with people over what's going on." Chang said it helps to be solutions-oriented as too much attention is placed on what is not working, which in turn, magnifies the problem.

Expert communicators will often times recommend active listening. Chang prefers reflective listening.

"We're just so not present when we want to be heard," said Chang. "But the other person wants to be heard too. So validate one another. Because sometimes we walk away from a conversation more heated because we misunderstand the entire thing a person was saying."
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