The most common causes of stress for most Americans involve work, financial or family drama. But, believe it or not, psychologists are reporting that this year’s election has become a top stressor for about half of Americans.
That’s according to a survey out from the American Psychological Association which found that the particular nastiness of the 2016 presidential contest is largely to blame for stressing out masses of Americans.
“In general,” APA clinical psychologist Lynn Bufka said, “humans like harmony.”
Harmony is not a word that would describe anything that’s happened so far in the 2016 election so far.
“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 Bufka.
Perhaps the most bipartisan aspect of this election year is the stress that it’s causing.
“We’re seeing that it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican — U.S. adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election,” Bufka said.
Among Democrats, 55 percent said they were stressed about the election, compared to 59 percent of Republicans.
According to the survey results, millennial voters and older Americans are being most affected by the stress of election 2016.
Bufka noted that worries about the outcome of this election are causing significantly more stress among elderly Americans than in past presidential contests.
“We’re wondering if thinking about the implications on their children and grandchildren might be the source of the stress,” she said.
Whatever the reason behind your electoral stress, it’s bad for you.
As Dr. Mark Wiley has pointed out:
Stress is one of the leading causes of illness in the United States. Indeed, nearly 66 percent of all signs and symptoms presented in doctors’ offices in the U.S. are stress induced.
The effects of stress include nail biting, anxiety, a racing mind, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behavior, unending worry, muscle tension and spasm, poor appetite or too great an appetite, digestive disorders, constipation, insomnia, poor blood flow, belabored breathing, neck pain, shoulder tension and the possible onset or continuation of bad habits such as dependence on alcohol, drugs, painkillers, food and caffeine.
Any one of these things by itself can trigger any number of different types of illnesses. But when these forces of antagonism are combined (as they generally are when triggered by stress), the health problems often become chronic and insufferable.
Thankfully, the election will be over soon. Unfortunately, for many Americans that could mean that even more intense stress is about to kick in…
Whether your candidate wins or loses on Tuesday, here are a few tips to help you through the stress of Election 2016 and its aftermath:
Finally, the APA suggests that whatever negativity you feel about the election and its result can be put to more positive use than worrying.
“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,” it said.
That’s solid advice.