NAVIGATION- Dr. Charles R. Davenport; Licensed Psychologist

Election Day 2016: Election Stress 2016

It is Election day in America. This election seems different than many others with a lot of election stress being felt. The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a survey looking at how this election may be resulting in significant election stress for Americans.

In particular, 52% of US adults were reporting significant election stress. Interestingly, both Republicans and Democrats were found to be equally likely  to report the election as a source of significant stress.

Stress and stress management have found to be significantly important to our well-being  both psychologically and physiologically.

The American Psychological Association offers tips to help people manage stress related to the election:

  1. Limit exposure to media  to avoid the ups and downs and instead choose regular times to update yourself keeping in mind  that you will not know the outcome until after the election is over. Fill your time with other fulfilling activities.
  2. Avoid discussing your political beliefs if there is a high likelihood of conflict arising. Be aware of how frequently you are discussing politics with friends, family members, or coworkers.
  3. Be aware of how your worrying about what might happen can lead to increased feelings of anxiety or stress. Work to remind yourself that this is not likely to be helpful to you and redirect your mind to areas that might allow you  to have the greatest impact such as being politically active.
  4. Find reassurance in the three branches of our government maintaining some semblance of stability  and avoid catastrophizing.
  5. Be sure to vote and hopefully by doing so you will feel your taking a proactive step in participating in the election cycle

It should be noted that many of these recommendations by the American Psychological Association  reflect cognitive behavioral interventions which can soothe us but also at times cover up why we are having the feelings or thoughts. Dr. Davenport finds it can also be helpful in being curious as to the origins of the unpleasant thoughts or feelings. This curious exploration can allow us to see if there’s something helpful in the origin of these feelings or thoughts to understand as well. The current nature of social media and news media have us exposed to election stimuli much more frequently than in past years and the findings from the APA suggest that the increased exposure result in increased stress.

election stress and media

Social media exposure and increased rating of election stress.

Election Stress American Psychological Association

52% of adults say the presidential election is a significant source of stress

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