Election Day stress: Should you stay up until the end?

Anxiety over the 2020 presidential election coupled with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been building for months, and when the results finally start to roll in tonight the temptation to stay up until the end becomes too much for many.

But will watching the news all night do more harm than good? That depends, experts say.  

“This is a very personal choice and a decision that should be made based on how you may be feeling throughout the night,” Barbara Nosal, chief clinical officer at Newport Institute, told Fox News. “If you find that the more you watch the results, the more anxious you become, it may be best to step away and try to focus on getting a good night’s rest instead.”

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And if you do find yourself becoming overwhelmed, Coral Seco, a licensed mental health counselor at Family Recovery Specialists, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group, recommends focusing on what you can control versus concentrating on what you can’t.

“Remembering that this anticipatory anxiety is completely normal and it really stems from the uncertainty,” Seco told Fox News. “This is information overload. Focus on what you can control. Remember that even on election night, we may not know the outcome of who the president-elect will be. So give yourself that grace, patience and practice that self-care until it is announced. That is all you can control.”

Setting a limit for social media apps can help lessen anxiety, experts say.
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Seco recommends making sure you are properly nourished and sticking to your normal bedtime routine, as sleep deprivation and hunger can affect how we feel.

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“Avoid using a substance(s) to self-soothe,” Seco said. “In this quarantine alone, we have seen a huge spike in substance abuse. Be mindful of this. All this does is lower your inhibitions and have you engage in behaviors you may ultimately regret. It’s also a temporary feel good.”

Both Seco and Nosal advise limiting time spent on social media as the election results roll in.

“The constant barrage of unfiltered opinions can be too much to take in,” Nosal said. “Consider taking a break, engage in a positive activity, and periodically check in on the results.”

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Seco suggested setting a time limit on social media apps for just 15 to 30 minutes and instead watching a show you’ve been meaning to see or opening a book you’d like to read.

“The night before the election and the night of the election, I recommend you try to take care of yourself,” Seco said.