Survey shows 2016 presidential election is source of ‘significant stress’ for Americans

Posted at 4:00 PM, Oct 18, 2016

A survey created by the American Psychological Association shows that the 2016 presidential election  is a significant source of stress for 52 percent of American adults.

The survey was conducted by Harris Poll among adults over 18 in the United States.

According to the survey, the election is equally stressful for both Democrats and Republicans. The study finds that 55 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans are equally likely to say the election is a significant source of stress.

“Election stress becomes exacerbated by arguments, stories, images and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory,” said Lynn Bufka, PhD, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy.

Social media may also be partly to blame. Nearly 38 percent of adults say political and cultural discussions on social media cause them stress. Those who use social media are more likely than adults who do not use social media say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.

Here are some tips from the American Psychological Association on keeping your stress levels low during election time:

  • If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims from the candidates is causing you stress, limit your media consumption. Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the newsfeed or take a digital break. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy.
  • Avoid getting into discussions about the election if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict. Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the election with friends, family members or coworkers.
  • Stress and anxiety about what might happen is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group. Remember that in addition to the presidential election, there are state and local elections taking place in many parts of the country, providing more opportunities for civic involvement.
  • Whatever happens on Nov. 8, life will go on. Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.
  • Vote. In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter. By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle. Find balanced information to learn about all the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), make informed decisions and wear your “I voted” sticker with pride.