With Election Day drawing to a close, the presidential election has entered its most crucial phase. But many voters are panicking at this point of the night. But rest assured, it's OK to be freaked out right now. As of 11:28 p.m. EST Clinton and Trump are just one electoral vote apart, with Clinton slightly leading, and the race has been close throughout Election Day. And if you're invested in one candidate over the other, the race has likely been tension-filled for a while now.
Between CNN's Wolf Blitzer's fast-paced election night coverage (which Arsenio Hall compared to an "epic horse race" on Twitter) and the close nature of the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it's no wonder people all over America are suffering from election-stress disorder. Symptoms include “heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping and a sinking or doomed feeling,” Dr. Asim Shah, vice chair for community psychiatry at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, told the Los Angeles Times. More than half of all Americans, across party lines, cite the election as the causing a "significant" amount of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. One Washington psychologist told ABC News that around half of her patients discuss the election with her.
So if you're nervous right now, you're definitely not alone. Millions of other Americans are right there with you. Even Canadians are (albeit with a more humorous tone) discussing their election night anxiety on Twitter with the hashtag, #MeanwhileInCanada.
Though the presidential election is undoubtedly important to America's future, if you need to take a moment for yourself away from election-related news, that's completely fine. You can always take a look at the latest election results after putting your mental health first. And I know that being told not to worry or to "calm down" is generally not a helpful approach to reducing anxiety, but there are concrete techniques you can use to reduce your stress levels.
You may also want to consider getting your election results by reading it rather than watching live television news coverage. “Paper media is very different than television media,” Shah told the Los Angeles Times. “It doesn’t give you the same immediate emotional experience.”
No matter your political leaning, remember that your election night experience is valid. But remember that the president is just one part of the three branches of government in the United States. No matter which candidate ends up getting elected, checks and balances still apply to America's president.