Elections & Stress: Coping with the pressure

If you are anything like me, election season can be extremely stressful. I get anxious watching the debates, I get nervous and tiptoe around questions surrounding my political opinion, I cringe everytime I see online arguments with misinformation and I’ll probably be on edge the whole election day, waiting for the results. What makes it such a stressful period is the tension between camps and the uncertainty of who gets elected, because we all know that only one of the candidates can win.

Looking back to the 2014 election, President Joko Widodo won with 53.15% of the votes and Bpk. Prabowo Subianto lost with 46.85%—how close the results are to 50% shows how divided the country was. It is also safe to say that almost half of the population was, and in this coming election, will be disappointed with the results regardless who wins.

What are some methods that can help me deal with elections?

If your stress levels are through the roof this election season, here are some ways that may help you with dealing with election stress or when it comes to it, dealing with election results:

1. Unplug

In this day of age it is easy to get information regarding politics and our candidates, it’s just with one simple click on your smartphone; whether it’s from news outlets, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and candidates’ individual social media accounts. Although yes, Tante Najwa Shihab has reminded us that we have no excuse to not be engaged and politically informed, it is also important to know your limit.

When you feel overwhelmed with the election stress, it does not help to be constantly on your news feed; so unplug for awhile or be mindful of how much time you spend on it.

2. Stick to your routine

Don’t let the election season or the election results overtake your life. What I mean by this is that we all still have our regular responsibilities and activities. So maintain your daily routine — whether it is heading to class, getting boba tea after uni with friends or heading to the library to study; stick to it. This can also give you a distraction.

3. Distract yourself
  • Leisure time: Take a break and do something you enjoy! Perhaps one of your hobbies such as a sport you like to play, finally open that book you’ve been meaning to read, catch a movie or catch up on one of the Youtubers you’ve been following.
  • Meaningful activities: Multiple studies done have shown the benefits of volunteering. Volunteering makes you feel more socially connected and allows you to be focused on others. A study published by BMJ Open, with over 66,000 people shows that volunteering leads to higher mental well-being scores. Borgonovi, F. (2008) found that those who volunteers once a month, were 7% happier, and Musick, M., & Wilson, J. (2003) found that it reduces levels of stress and anxiety. So if you’re up for it, why not channel that energy to helping the community!
  • Plans with friends and family: Surround yourself with the people you love and who supports you. You may also be interested in joining groups of like minded people, such as a club in university or a Facebook group that supports the candidate you are voting for.

Here is a website that can help you find volunteering opportunities in Indonesia: Indorelawan

4. Avoid substances

Avoid using alcohol, cigarettes and drugs as means to cope with the stresses of the election (and/or your life) as these are just temporary relief. This will not change the political climate or help with your election stress nor will it change the election results, and may lead to negative long term consequences for both your physical and mental health.

Remember that whatever the result, just know that who ever gets elected have one vision and that is to improve Indonesia. It is also important to remember that though the president holds a high position of power, a president is only one part of a big and complex political system.

Now to wrap this post up, in the 2014 elections we had a 69.58% voting turnout, the team here in Seribu Tujuan urges you to use your voice and don’t forget to vote this April 17th!

Learn more about stress at Seribu Tujuan