The 2016 United States presidential election is a source of significant stress for many Americans on both sides of the political divide, according to the annual Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association (APA).
Majority of Americans Experiencing Election Stress
Approximately 3,500 U.S. citizens participated in the survey, with weighted variables balanced across age, education, race, region, and income to demographically represent the current U.S. population.
Based on the results, 52% of participants reported feeling somewhat significant or very significant stress levels surrounding the upcoming presidential election. Men and women reported about equal stress levels, at 51% and 52% respectively. People who are active on social media were especially likely to experience election-related stress. About 54% of people who regularly use social media said the election was a significant source of stress (compared to 45% of adults who do not use social media), and 4 in 10 respondents said politically charged conversations on social media were a cause of stress.
More so than other racial or ethnic groups, Hispanics were most likely to report experiencing election-related stress (56%), followed by 52% of whites, 52% of Native-Americans, 46% of African-Americans, and 43% of Asian-Americans.
About 60% of individuals with disabilities reported experiencing election stress compared to 48% of those without a disability. The percentage of Republicans and Democrats (59% and 55% respectively) experiencing election-related stress or anxiety was about statistically equal.
Ways to Ease Election Anxiety
The results of the survey come with recommendations aimed at helping voters mitigate their stress levels before heading to the ballot box on November 8. These recommendations include reducing the amount of daily media intake and instead reading just enough to stay informed while prioritizing time with family and friends. Avoiding politically charged discussions that are likely to veer into unproductive conflict either online or in person can be an effective way to sidestep heightened election anxiety.
No matter what happens on Election Day, the APA suggests reminding yourself that life will go on. Maintaining a balanced perspective and avoiding “catastrophizing” either outcome can ease stress levels. For those who feel the need to channel their concerns into something productive, the APA recommends finding a way to support your local community, such as volunteering or advocating for a meaningful issue.
The APA’s final recommendation is to vote. Voting in the upcoming election can be an effective way to feel a sense of importance and participation in an especially stressful election cycle.
- Alderman, L. (2016, October 20). Talking to your therapist about election anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/well/mind/talking-to-your-therapist-about-election-anxiety.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&_r=0
- American Psychological Association. (2016). APA survey reveals 2016 presidential election source of significant stress. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/10/presidential-election-stress.aspx
- Shanker, D. (2016, October 13). It’s official: This election is driving Americans nuts. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-13/it-s-official-this-election-is-driving-americans-nuts
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