Anxiety And Hope: Maintaining Connection During The Election

Therapist and author Steven Stosny, in an article for Psychology Today, coined the phrase “election stress disorder” or ESD – a kind of takeover of the adult, rational brain by the more emotional toddler brain which is highly susceptible to emotional influences.

Have you read headlines about the election and found your blood pressure rise and your mood change? Do you find your inner peace shaken by the stress of election season?

Our newest conversation guide, Anxiety and the Election, can help us explore how to set boundaries for our own well-being, as well as have meaningful conversations, when so much importance is placed on a singular political event.

When we focus on what we can control–the relationships we build, the communities we nurture, the meaningful conversations we have–we can reduce our anxiety by regaining a sense of personal agency.

Our partners at Make America Dinner Again (MADA) have come up with a powerful model using Living Room Conversations to connect across political difference in the lead up to this historic election. MADA hosts have organized cohorts across the political spectrum to meet a few times before and potentially even after the election.

Using Living Room Conversation’s model of bringing together a balance of right and left-leaning perspectives, these conversations are strategically scheduled after key political events, following a Presidential debate, for example, in order to create space to listen and learn from opposing perspectives.

Many groups are even staying in touch, emailing links and resources between conversations, with the hopes of deepening trust and understanding.

Conversation begin with broad topics like 2020 Election – Concerns or Aspirations, and move into more specifics with topics like News in the Modern World, or Money in Politics.

In a few weeks, we’ll check back in with some of the MADA cohort leaders to hear about their experience.

Many of us are experiencing some anxiety around this election. We hope the Anxiety and the Election Conversation Guide, and MADA’s creative application of Living Room Conversations around the election, can inspire us to take actionable steps despite our fears.

As painful as it is to see our social fabric tear, we don’t have to stand idly by. Darkness grows more terrifying the more we try to deny it.  Meaningful conversations help us reckon with our horrible and beautiful reality.

When we open our eyes to what’s right here, right now–no matter how distressing–we conspire to bring about healing and wholeness to ourselves, our neighborhoods, and our great nation.
Shannon Mannon
Newsletter Editor