News / Mental Health

Election is turning out to be unhealthy source of stress for many Americans

52 percent of Americans age 18 and older said the election is a somewhat or very significant source of stress. That included 55 percent who align with Democrats and 59 percent with Republicans.

The 24/7 coverage of the acrimonious U.S. presidential election has caused stress for more than half of American adults, regardless of party affiliation, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA).

It doesn't matter whether you're registered as a Democrat or Republican - U.S. adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election

Overall, 52 percent of Americans age 18 and older said the election is a somewhat or very significant source of stress. That included 55 percent who align with Democrats and 59 percent with Republicans.

The survey also found that 38 percent of respondents said political and cultural discussions on social media cause them stress. More than half who use social media said the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, compared with 45 percent of those who don't use social media.

Men and women were equally likely to feel stressed by the Trump-Clinton battle, but there were differences between generations.

Only 45 percent of Generation Xers - those born from 1965 to 1980 - reported election stress, while nearly six out of 10 "Matures" did so, according to the online survey conducted in August. Matures were born pre-1946.

In addition, 56 percent of millennials and half of baby boomers said the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.

Election stress becomes exacerbated by arguments, stories, images and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory. You can minimize your discomfort, however, by reducing your media exposure and avoiding political discussions, the association suggests.

Here are some tips from the APA for taking the election in stride:

  • Turn off your news feed, or take a digital break. Read just enough to stay informed. Take time for yourself, go for a walk, do things you enjoy and spend time with family and friends.
  • Avoid discussing the election if there is a risk it may escalate to conflict. Be aware of how often you discuss the election with family, friends or co-workers.
  • Worrying about the election outcome is not productive. Instead, take action on issues that concern you. For example, volunteer in your community, join a local group or advocate for an issue you care about.
  • And finally, vote. That should help you feel that you're taking a proactive step.

More tips:

  • Do not watch and read election/political coverage for hours each day
  • Do not agonize over the fate of the election
  • Do not threaten to move to another country if the election doesn't go our way
  • Do not give more weight to the election than it is due
  • Do not fight and argue over who is right and who is wrong

*Disclaimer: Pre-Election Stress Disorder is not a real psychiatric diagnosis. However, the stress, worry, and anxiety that folks feel around this time every 4 years is very real. If worry and anxiety about this (or other) issues are negatively affecting you, please contact your health care provider.


ref.: ChicagoTribune, BreitSurveys

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