LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With election night stretching into election week, emotions are running high.
“When we’re talking about politics, we’re talking about our values, we’re talking about our beliefs, we’re talking about the things that really make up a life and the things that we believe make up a really good life,” Josh Jonas, a psychotherapist at The Village Institute, said.
Jonas said that was why voters have so much invested in the outcome and the prolonged vote counting can take a toll on mental health.
“When it gets prolonged and it keeps going and it keeps going and it keeps going, all of a sudden emotionally it kind of feels like you thought you were running a sprint and all of the sudden someone says, ‘no it’s a marathon,'” he said.
And that long slog toward the finish line is why Jonas said it is important to focus on what is currently happening and not what might happen.
“Often times, it’s not pain that’s so painful, it’s the believe or the fear that pain is gonna go on forever,” he said.
But for some, the stress will not end when all the votes are counted.
This week, a study by the Human Improvement Project looked at how relationships have been impacted by political differences over the past year.
“Almost half of voters reported that they had weakened some of their closest relationships, and almost a quarter reported that they had lost some,” Matt Larson, a mental health researcher, said. “And because these relationships are so closely tied to wellbeing, this data seems to indicate that public long-term wellbeing has taken a big hit.”
Of those surveyed, about 65% reported that they were less likely to pursue future relationships after learning about a person’s political views.
“I think one thing to keep in mind is that each side is now largely dealing with a different set of ‘facts,'” Larson said.
And when a winner is declared, Jonas said both sides have work to do. He said winners should not gloat, and those on the losing side need to allow themselves to grieve.
“Allowing these feelings to have their beginning, middle and end is really how we stay away from depression,” he said.
But, regardless of which side of the political spectrum people fall on, experts agree that everyone should be taking breaks from consuming election coverage. They recommend putting away the phone and getting some physical activity in, since movement has been shown to improve emotional states.