Staying calm at the polls: Mental health counselor offers advice

A licensed mental health counselor is offering advice to people who may be feeling anxious heading to the polls to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor Shantala Boss said people may be feeling a heightened sense of anxiety during this election because of social distancing, mask requirements, the potential of long lines, and the election itself.

“It’s within our nature to want to know the outcome, to know what to expect and we don’t know as much this election because of the way things are changing with the pandemic,” Boss explained.

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She said it is important to prepare mentally and emotionally the day before going to vote to help stay calm, suggesting that you "set a schedule. When do you want to go? Are you going to be able to take time off of work in case it were to be prolonged?”

Most Central Florida counties have mask mandates requiring people to wear masks in public. Boss said if someone is not following mask mandates or social distancing guidelines, remember we all have different frames of reference.

She said that “If there’s some way in our mind that we can remove ourselves emotionally and realize it’s not personal, that it’s their experience, it’s what they’re dealing with right now and they’re doing the best they can.”

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If you start to feel overwhelmed find a friend in line, she said, adding that “I think one of the easiest ones is kind of familiarizing yourself with a couple of people in line… Saying hi, having a comment, bond in some way so you feel a little less alienated.”

Boss said it is also important to know your limits and have an exit strategy in case you get overwhelmed.

To close, she said it is important to practice tolerance when dealing with politics, explaining that “different political parties are often based on personality, experience, life views. And so if we can respect where everyone’s been and where everyone’s at and what they’re feeling, I think it will help a lot more in our own frame of reference to not get so upset.”

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest 2020 election updates.