We have all been fighting off our demons since the pandemic by either confronting them with the use of increased mental health resources, or pushing them deep down in hopes they will disappear on their own, which we always cross our fingers thinking it might actually work. For Americans, 2022 has been yet another difficult year between inflation of gas prices and groceries, the war in Ukraine, and of course, the November 8 election. What does each assurance have in common? Stress. Lots and lots of stress.
In a recent study by the American Institute of Stress, inflation (including gas prices, energy bills, and groceries) ranked at 87 percent as a top stressor for Americans. Next, at 81 percent was supply chain issues, followed by “global uncertainty, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and potential retaliation from Russia in the form of cyberattacks or nuclear threats.” According to the American Psychological Association, “we are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come.” One leading potential cause may be the easy access to the negativity and stress that surrounds the news today with the use of our smartphones, emails and turning on our televisions. It can feel impossible to get away from the stressors of life in 2022 and just breathe. The hardest part? Trying to escape the noise during an election.
Just 72 hours ago, most Americans were taking a trip to their local polling place to cast their ballots in one of the most contentious elections of our time. Once the evening came, it was only natural to feel a sense of calm that this was almost over while still feeling a level of anxiety hanging around for what the morning would bring. While not all votes have been counted, one thing is for sure: stress levels are still at an all time high. Have you ever felt that feeling of anxiety before or leading up to an election? If so, you may be among the 52% of Americans who struggle with Election Stress Disorder as a significant stressor in your life.
Erica Wiederlight, a seasoned life and confidence coach, shared that many of her clients have recently experienced a great deal of stress surrounding this election. Weiderlight says that “a lot of people are trying to cope and live through the impact that the election has directly on each and every one of us.” She continued by stating that “as a society, we’ve already hit a place of burnout and exhaustion since the pandemic and are working with a limited bandwidth.” The question now becomes whether or not this stress and anxiety will remain with us, get better over time, or stay a part of the “unknown?”
Erica currently operates her own private practice as a coach and has recently begun working with the mobile app “zant,” a new mental health app, to reach those who need her most at low costs starting at $25 per session. When asked about any current trends she is seeing with her clients since the pandemic she shared that “The pandemic brought us all into a togetherness surrounded by fear and anxiety of the future. Since then, we have all tried to push towards getting back to some sort of normalcy or going back to the life we had prior to the pandemic; but with this fear and anxiety now came this intertwined grief into our every day lives with the frustrating feelings of more to deal with.” While we may have lost a part of ourselves in 2019, there is still hope. She says, “The pandemic may have changed us in one way or another, but my hope is that the anxiety we feel now does not remain the same strength forever and instead gives us the desire to reach a level of self awareness surrounding the importance of self care and mental health support.”
It is the feeling of safety that brings us to a place of peace- while feeling “un-safe” is like going on a blind date for the first time. If you can relate, an exercise that Erica does with her clients, that you can do at home, involves feeling safe. “A tool I use with my clients when they feel as though they are spiraling out of control emotionally is to sit in a place that they feel ‘safe’ in, close their eyes, and put their hand on their heart to ground them in that moment. I then ask them to give me three reasons as to why they are safe, whether it be that they have a phone close by to call someone with or have a loved one that keeps them warm.”
So what can you do to escape the stress without taking an emergency trip outside the country to avoid a mental break down or drowning your sorrows with a double quarter pounder at the local McDonalds?
First, you can pull out that smartphone and download an app called “zant” to speak to someone about your stress for free. It is free to use and offers free consultations for a 30 minute session with a provider. What happens after that? Well, it depends. If you’re a student, your provider is only $25 per session. For non-students, rates start as low as $30 and go no higher than $100, of which you can decide what fits within your budget on a sliding-scale basis. The best part? This isn’t another mental health app playing cupid as the next therapy match maker. This is an app that offers you a direct connection to specialists in stress and burnout, addiction and recovery, anxiety, life and career, trauma, and more. With same day and same week availability, you can get away from the stressors of life for 30 minutes to hop on a video call or old fashioned phone call to just vent. If you feel like you need more support, just schedule another session or directly chat your provider for free.
Maybe we came together during the pandemic in 2019 and are now trying to get back to our lives in such a separate way, that dealing with so much independence has left us feeling uncomfortable, anxious, and un-safe during a time like an election. But with the right support, I think we just might get through this together and experience our own “mental glow up”. If you feel the weight of stress on your shoulders, don’t hesitate to take Erica’s advice and ground yourself, breathe, and remember at least three reasons as to why you’re safe; and download zant in the app store to meet with someone who actually gets it.