The Presidential Election Has Stressed Us Out So Much, Even The American Psychological Association Is Worried
Well, it's official. After almost two years of listening to speeches, seeing posts on your news feed, and reading one alarmist article after another, the presidential election has stressed us out so much that the American Psychological Association took notice in their Stress in America survey. This was the first time that they included a question about the election in the survey, and it revealed (perhaps unsurprisingly) that if you're feeling like this election is making you want to pull your hair out, you're not alone. 52 percent of the American population is right there with you.
The survey results could actually function as a major unifier at a time when the country feels more divided than ever. The stress has apparently crossed party lines better than any member of Congress, with 59 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democratic respondents reporting that "the election is a very of somewhat significant source of stress." It also doesn't appear to have much of a racial preference, with Hispanics reporting the highest rate of stress, at 56 percent, and whites and Native Americans close behind, with 52 percent. African American and Asian American individuals report rates of 46 and 43 percent, respectively, and the only reason these seem like low numbers is that the others are so absurdly high.
There are numerous factors that have made this into such a gut-wrenching experience for so many Americans. The candidates have been going at each other's throats with very little regard for the typical politeness, and the campaign rhetoric from both sides has reflected that. When the average voter sees that sort of thing every day on her news feed, it adds up. Social media is one of the major stress factors surrounding the whole election, in fact. Add that to a deeply polarized electorate and candidates who both have higher unfavorable ratings than literally any other presidential candidate since 1980, and you get a countrywide stress epidemic.
But even though it might feel like you're spiraling downward and someone from one side or the other is always saying that the world will end on November 8 no matter who wins, do not despair! The APA has also offered tips to avoid election stress. First, get yourself away from cable news. Only consume what you consider the minimum amount needed to stay up to date, and let the rest just scream out into the void. Next, be cognizant of how much you're discussing it, and avoid getting into the sorts of debates which you just know aren't going to end well.
If the stress is giving you that sort of nervous energy that makes it hard to focus on other, more necessary things, like work and feeding yourself, try channeling it into something productive. You could volunteer for a local campaign, or devote time to advocating for a specific issue that you support, for example. Once you get involved, you'll feel like you have more control, and that'll cut down on stress. Also, remind yourself that all of the doomsday predictions will end up falling into the deepest holes of our collective memory (Remember Y2K? Exactly), and that our government has a number of stabilizing mechanisms to ensure a peaceful transition even after such a hard-fought election. Repeat this mantra after me: Checks and balances.
Finally, if you want to alleviate election stress, there is one thing above all that you should do: vote. Let me remind you again that no matter where you live, your vote matters. Whether you vote early, absentee, or on Election Day, exercising your civic right to choose who governs your city, state, and country is by far and away the best way to make that stress flit straight out the window. So take a deep breath, go let your voice be heard, and then wear that "I voted" sticker like a medal of honor, because you are now officially a veteran of the 2016 American presidential election.