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Handling Election Anxiety-A counsellors’ take

Aug 24, 2022 09:43:15 AM

Election anxiety is not unique to Kenya. A survey conducted by The American Psychological Association (APA) found that over half (52%) of Americans felt elections are a very and somewhat significant source of stress in their lives.

It is estimated that many people (60%) in Kenya experience election anxiety. In extreme cases, elections can lead to an election stress disorder and this affects either side of the political divide.

This is because of the constant media coverage, uncertainty, volatile election issues and social media bickering that just adds to the people feeling on edge.

The stress is caused by the current political climate that includes torrential and constant downpour of news and information that’s keeps changing all of the time.

This includes opinion polls, hate speech and propaganda that do not really ever seem to be anything good. Media and

social debates include both positive and negative talk which serve to heighten fear and uncertainty.

The worst is election violence is when families and friends, neighbours and colleagues who were hitherto related well are constantly arguing because they cannot seem to agree on a candidate. It is important to find out if you are suffering from election stress.

Manifestation of election stress include unexplained headaches, trouble sleeping, anger and sheer irritability and feeling disheartened.This is evident in posting and forwarding election posters and messages hopefully to influence the election in your favour.If not careful, you end up in endless debates leading to heated arguments that can turn

violent.

The solution is to take care of yourself. This is by surrounding yourself with greater positivity.

For example, praying and meditation, eating, sleeping and exercises part of your normal routine. This way, you avoid the binge on politics and election news and analysis.

This includes clinging to your hobbies such as a pet,gardening, going on a run and going to bed early and nature such as relaxing piano music and watching the sunrise or set for a change.

You also need to seek the company of positive people who aren’t wholesomely consumed by the election.

Ultimately, prepare for the results. It could be a day or two or even a week before a clear and definite winners are

officially announced.

Finally, to the candidates running for these elective posts, in any competition there are winners and losers. If you in do it politely without ridiculing the losers. Tempers are bound to flare.

For the losers, concede defeat and look forward to fight another day. It is the gentleman way of doing things.

Photo courtesy Dr Geoffrey Wango is a Senior

Lecturer in Counselling Psychology

at the University of Nairobi

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