2/3rds of US Adults are Very Stressed about the Elections
In August, 2020, 68% of US Adults said that the upcoming elections are a significant source of stress in their lives, according to a Harris Poll (done on behalf of the American Psychological Association). This percentage was even larger for Democrats, black adults and those with a chronic health condition.
Why Are We All So Stressed?
Understanding why we feel what we feel is helpful information. Even if it doesn't always alter our experience, it gives us a better sense of what's going on and how to treat it. Election stress in 2020 is significantly higher than it was in 2016 (68% in 2020 instead of 52% in 2016) as our country has become even more volatile and divided. With increased attention toward racial injustices, police violence, environmental tragedies, and of course our current coronavirus pandemic, our future is uncertain.
One way of trying to make sense of our chaotic world and the myriad of increasing unknowns, is to scroll all the bad news (aka doomscrolling or doomsurfing) on our devices hoping for resolution or at least an understanding of the path forward. Unfortunately this rarely works and most of the time makes us feel worse as we're becoming controlled by a 24/7 news cycle and social media.
These behaviors intensifies our hopelessness, anger and despair. Who will win the election and the net result of that brings up intense distress, regardless of political affiliation. Another factor contributing to our stress is our intrinsic negative bias originating from our evolutionary history of needing to scan our environment for danger to keep ourselves safe. Our common humanity has this self-protective mechanism of prioritizing the negative/danger in our environment, over positive experiences. We need to digest far more positive news, experiences or feelings in order to keep our mental and emotional health in balance.
How To Stop Binging on Bad News
Strategies for Surviving Election Season 2020
While some of this is easier said than done, these are practices, rather than final destinations, that can help us better cope with scary & painful times. These require ongoing practice and work to strengthen our ability to navigate life to live more fully.
Interview on Channel Q Radio: Elections Stress 2020
We ultimately can't predict the outcome of the election but we can take steps to navigate it as best we can and plan to take better care of ourselves in the process.
What strategies work for you?