In the face of one of America’s most drawn-out, vitriolic, and divisive presidential election seasons in living memory, more than half of the nation’s adults say the election is significantly stressful to them.
But there might be some wise ways of avoiding that stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
The APA issued a set of recommendations aimed at helping citizens preserve their well-being in response to a survey it carried out that found that 52 percent of adults said the 2016 election season was a “very,” or “somewhat significant” source of stress for them. The recommendations include things like limiting media consumption and getting involved serving community.
It seems the burden of election stress falls equally on both sides of the political aisle.
“We’re seeing that it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican – US adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election,” Lynn Bufka, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy said in a statement.
The APA found that social media was a particularly common source of stress, with adults who use it more likely (at 54 percent) than those who don’t (at 45 percent) to find the election stressful.
“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,” Dr. Bufka said.
The study also found that Millennials (ages 19-37) and so-called “matures” (over 71) were more likely to find the election stressful than the generations in between.
In brief, the APA suggestions are:
- Read just enough to stay informed without getting caught-up in the 24-hour news cycle, and spend time with friends and family doing things you enjoy instead.
- Find balanced information on all candidates before voting and avoiding "catastrophizing" about the election result.
- Vote, as it is a proactive way of contributing to democracy.
- Avoid political discussions that have the potential to get heated and be aware of how much you are discussing politics.
- Instead of being transfixed by stress, energies would be better channeled by working to make positive changes on issues you care about.
- Remember that life will go on regardless of the election result.