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How To Survive A Stressed-Out Presidential Election

October 19, 2016

A request, dear candidates to-be-named for the 2020 presidential election:

Don’t freak us out again! Please.

We’ve had enough stress and anxiety from the Trump-Clinton election vitriol and apocalyptic hysteria here in 2016  to last a millennium. Believe us.

The fallout of the election is among the few things about it that is not partisan. According to a recent Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association, 59 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats say it’s stressful. Big time.

Generationally, people 71 and older (59 percent) and millennials age 19 to 37 (56 percent) are most effected, with Boomers age 52 to 70 (50 percent) and Gen Xers age 38 to 51 (45 percent) not far behind in reporting the election as a “somewhat” to “very significant” source of stress. Likewise, all races and ethnicities are affected: Hispanic (56 percent), white (52), Native American (52), black (46) and Asian (43).

“There has been much media coverage highlighting negative attributes and indiscretions of both candidates,” says Carrie Pichie, Ph.D., Natchaug Hospital director of ambulatory services, “leading to more ambivalence from Americans regarding how to vote.  More than ever before, polls have shown that many Americans are not in favor of either candidate, leading to a feeling of uncertainty about the future of America.  Pertinent topics to society today which have been linked with violent acts, such as racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination, have been at the forefront of the election.  Some Americans have even verbalized concerns regarding ‘violence and uprisings’ based on the outcome of the election.”

Stress that lasts this long isn’t good for your health. How many of you have experienced headaches, elevated blood pressure, upset stomach  or difficulty sleeping? To survive this year’s election, the American Psychological Association recommends:

  • Taking a break from television news coverage and social media. Keep away from hostile or inflammatory exchanges on Facebook or Twitter.
  • If you want to get political, focus on your state or local elections. Volunteer in your community in support of a cause you support.
  • Letting your friends and co-workers know you’d rather not talk about politics.
  • Having faith in the future. Despite the threat of “the end of American civilization,” the post-election climate should start to feel a little more normal. Believe in our democracy!
  • Voting. Despite the stress of this election, voting shows that your voice matters and will be heard through the unending hostility.

“Citizens look for stability and predictability in the leadership of their country, and that is certainly faltering at present,” says Pichie. “Focusing on what one can control is most helpful in dealing with stress, as well as limiting exposure to the reasons for the stress.”