Election Stress Getting to You? You’re Not Alone

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY, October 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) – For most Americans, the 2020 presidential election is a big source of stress, according to a new national survey.

Almost seven in 10 adults (68%) surveyed called the election a significant source of stress, up from 52% in 2016, according to the survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, attempts to overthrow Republican President Donald Trump in a divisive campaign that has highlighted the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, economy and widespread racial unrest .

And pre-election stress is high among people of all political stripes: 76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of independents, according to the survey.

APA chief executive Arthur Evans Jr. said it was an election year like no other.

“Not only are we in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, but we also face growing division and hostility in the presidential election,” Evans said in a statement from the APA.

Add to this racial unrest in our cities, the unstable economy and climate change that have fueled widespread forest fires and other natural disasters. The result is a build-up of stressors that take physical and emotional toll on the Americans, ā€¯Evans said.

But some groups are feeling stress more intensely than they did in 2016, according to the survey. For example, 71% of black adults said the election was a source of stress, up from 46% four years ago.

Adults with chronic health conditions are also more likely than those without them to say this election is stressful (71% vs. 64%). Rates were lower in both groups in the 2016 campaign (55% vs. 45%).

And the stress, which has intensified over the past year, goes beyond the election itself.

In 2020, 77% of people say they are stressed about the future of the United States, compared to 66% in 2019.

The survey of over 3,400 adults was conducted online by The Harris Poll from August 4 to 26, 2020.

If election stress hits you, there are steps you can take to alleviate it, the APA advised.

Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control and focus on what you can control. Limit your media exposure. Do the activities you love and get involved in the things that matter to you, experts suggest.

Stay connected socially. Go for a walk or hang out with your friends and family. Stay or be active – physical activity helps release stress-related energy.

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