Dealing with Election-Related Stress

Is election stress causing added strain in your relationships?

Election StressThe American Psychological Association (APA) recently published their annual report about stress in America. This year, the report focused specifically on stress associated with our remarkable current presidential election.

Facing one of the most adversarial contests in recent history and daily coverage of the presidential election that dominates every form of mass media, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. The survey was conducted online among adults 18+ living in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association.

The report found that most people (including those from all age groups, political party affiliations, and most ethnic groups) are quite stressed by the tenor and level of discourse of the current political election process. Those who are actively engaged with social media reported higher levels of election related stress as well.  Reviewing some of the details of the report found that Republicans reported more stress than Democrats and elderly adults, adults with disabilities, and Latinos reported especially high levels of election related stress.

The APA report suggested several thoughtful ways to minimize election related stress that are worth repeating here.  These include:

  • If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims from the candidates is causing you stress, limit your media consumption. Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the newsfeed or take a digital break. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy.
  • Avoid getting into discussions about the election if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict. Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the election with friends, family members or coworkers.
  • Stress and anxiety about what might happen is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group. Remember that in addition to the presidential election, there are state and local elections taking place in many parts of the country, providing more opportunities for civic involvement.
  • Whatever happens on Nov. 8, life will go on. Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.
  • Vote. In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter. By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle. Find balanced information to learn about all the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), make informed decisions and wear your “I voted” sticker with pride.

Certainly, the current political process and, most especially, the presidential election contest is remarkable for the level of offensive discourse. It has been a nasty, brutal, and stressful affair for sure.

If you’d like to discuss your stress level or how to better manage election-related stress, please feel free to contact us.