• Lauren Turner

A Stress Management Workshop for Students Dealing with Election Overload

Some students feel overwhelmed and submerged with election negativity. Visual created by Lauren Turner.

Tips to Deal with Election Related Stress

“This virtual workshop will focus on the various stressors that occur during a time like this and how to effectively cope in a healthy manner,” read the tagline for the October 20th virtual workshop organized by the University of Nevada, Reno’s Counseling Services to help students manage their stress and emotions related to the ongoing 2020 election cycle.

The Coordinator of Operations and Outreach, Carla Franich, was accompanied by Coordinator and Psychotherapist Jeremy Bissram as the two went through tips, exercises and strategies to help students manage their emotions during a contentious political time.

Some examples included being mindful of one’s social media intake and engaging with others in their community.

Stress can stem from a bunch of different factors. However, if the thing you are most stressed about is say the election and all you are seeing and surrounding yourself with are topics relating to the election, whether it is posts or news, you are not helping that stress, the advisors said. You are feeding it. You need a healthy balance. This is where the tip of watching your intake of media comes in. By doing this, you become aware of how much you are taking in and you try to balance it.

A visual by Lauren Turner of the recent Zoom event she attended called “Election Centered Stress Management”.

Engaging with Like-Minded Community and Avoiding Unproductive Conversations

When it comes to engaging with your community, Franich and Bissram emphasized how discussions, especially with people who validate your thoughts, is going to be a very important factor in helping decrease some of those high emotions.

After a couple of tips, Franich walked students through a grounding technique. This exercise was to help students be able to focus on the present moment. It had students focus on five things they could see around them, four things they could touch, three things they could hear, two things they could smell and one thing they could taste. Through this exercise students were brought to awareness and could focus in on their thoughts and feelings.

Another important topic that was brought up after the grounding technique was the topic of unproductive conversations.

During the time up to and right after an election, the term “unproductive conversation,” is brought up constantly. An unproductive conversation could mean an array of things. What it might mean to one person may mean a completely different thing to another.

“You agree with a particular viewpoint and another person doesn’t, and they really want to challenge you on that,” Bissram said when talking about the definition of an unproductive conversation. “It may be something you read on social media that rubbed you the wrong way.”

Another quote by Bissram above in a visual by Lauren Turner.

How to Keep Healthy Boundaries

When students find themselves in an unproductive conversation Bissram suggested students can say, “I appreciate what you are saying to me, but I think I need to take a step back from this right now. Maybe we can pick this up at a different point.”

“I think that’s one of the simplest and gentlest ways to say, ‘Here’s my boundary and I’m not really willing to cross that in this moment,’” Bissram said.

“For me, to visualize me holding up my hand and saying I’m stopping, helps me reinforce that this is a barrier,” Franich said of giving visual cues to help in that situation. “That this is a line that I don’t want to have crossed at this moment.”

Franich and Bissram ended the workshop by informing students of the Counseling Services’ resources. They provided students with ways to contact them if they need to talk about this topic or anything else.

Here is a link to the UNR Counseling Services’ website: Through this link students can find those resources and contact information.

For those interested, Counseling Services is hosting another Election Centered Stress Management workshop on October 26 at 11am.

Reporting and Visuals by Lauren Turner for the Reynolds Sandbox

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