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How to de-stress on Election Day

Tomorrow is Election Day for arguably the most important presidential race of our lifetimes. Just last month, the American Psychological Association found it to be a significant source of stress for Americans— even more than the 2016 presidential race. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults say this election is a significant source of stress in their life, in comparison to the 52 percent last go-around. 

The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll, a market research and global consulting firm based in Chicago and New York City. 

A 4-year buildup

What’s more, the survey discovered such stress was significant for Democrats (76 percent), Republicans (67 percent) and Independents (64 percent). Election as a source of stress increased for Black adults from 46 percent to 71 percent. Also, adults with chronic conditions are consistently more likely than those without to report the election as a source of stress. 

Almost 80 percent of say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress. 

“This has been a year unlike any other in living memory,” APA Chief Executive Officer Arthur C. Evans Jr. said. “Not only are we in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans, but we are also facing increasing division and hostility in the presidential election. Add to that racial turmoil in our cities, the unsteady economy and climate change that has fueled widespread wildfires and other natural disasters. The result is an accumulation of stressors that are taking a physical and emotional toll on Americans.”

Caring for your well-being

As the big day approaches, the APA recommends the following evidence-based advice: 

  • Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control
  • Focus on what you can control, like limiting your media consumption. Give yourself permission to take a break from the news
  • Engage in meaningful activities, such as getting involved with issues meaningful to you 
  • Stay socially connected by going for a walk or spending time with friends and family (in a COVID-19-safe manner, of course). 
  • Stay active: moving helps release the energy experienced when stressed 
  • Accept we might not know the winner on Election Day. If this makes you anxious, keep yourself busy with enjoyable activities and stay connected to social support (offline is probably best). 

You can take a look at Culturas’ guides to stay busy: 

As explained by the Los Angeles Times, patience is essential for election night. States vary in their rules for when they start counting votes. For example, battleground states like Florida and Arizona are expected to count most ballots by election night or not much later. However, key states like Pennsylvania and Michigan could take days because laws prohibit counting ballots before election day. 

Though social media is an important space for community, especially as we cope with the pandemic, going offline this week may be your best mode of defense against stress. In addition to blue light interfering with our ability to fall asleep, social media can be pretty damaging to our mental health. Even day-to-day, it’s important to ask ourselves (as put by journalist Karen Ho): are you doomscrolling?

Haley Bosselmanhttps://haleybosselman.wordpress.com/
Haley Bosselman is the former editor-in-chief of Culturas. She holds degrees in journalism from Arizona State University and the University of Southern California. Based in Los Angeles, she writes about arts, entertainment and culture.
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