Fifty-two percent of U.S. adults say the presidential election is "a very or somewhat significant" source of stress in their life, according to the American Psychological Association's (APA) annual Stress in America survey.
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APA surveyed 3,511 U.S. adults in August.
The survey found that participants of all age ranges reported somewhat or very significant levels of stress due to the election, including:
- 56 percent of those between 19 and 37 years old;
- 45 percent of those between 38 and 51 years old;
- 50 percent of those 52 to 70 years old; and
- 59 percent of those 71 years old or older.
Adults with disabilities were more likely to report stress due to the election, at 60 percent, compared with 48 percent of adults without disabilities.
Men and women were equally likely to say the election was a source of stress, as were Republicans and Democrats.
Election stress also was common in participants across races and ethnicities, including:
- 56 percent of Hispanics;
- 52 percent of whites;
- 52 percent of Native Americans;
- 46 percent of blacks; and
- 43 percent of Asians.
According to Lynn Bufka, APA's associate executive director for policy, the election is causing stress to as many Americans as other major life stressors, such as the economy or work. "We can work ourselves up over what the future president could do, and if we get wrapped up in a lot of 'what ifs,' that can make us really stressed, too," she added.
Bufka also said that social media could contribute to election stress. According to the survey, 38 percent of adults said that political and cultural discussions on social media caused them 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," Bufka said. "The social niceties seem to slip away when we're online. ... I urge people, walk away from it, it's OK to not be plugged in all the time."
APA recommended that, to handle election-related stress, people take digital breaks and avoid political discussions, as well as "channel[ing] your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about," such as through community volunteer work (Resnick, Vox, 10/13; Itkowitz, "Inspired Life," Washington Post, 10/13; American Psychological Association release, 10/13; Shanker, Bloomberg, 10/13; Capetta, Yahoo, 10/5; "Stress in America: U.S. Presidential Election," American Psychological Association, accessed 10/17).
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