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With Election Day just around the corner, many Americans are on edge. Nearly 70% of respondents said the elections are a significant source of stress, according to a survey out this month from the American Psychological Association.
The survey also found that a majority — 77% — are worried about the country’s future, says Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association. “Seventy-one percent said that this is the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.”
The bleak mood takes many forms. For Adrienne Deckman, a Democrat, the panic attacks started after the 2016 elections. “I was hypervigilant and with a rapid heartbeat and palpitations,” says the 67-year-old lawyer, who lives outside Cleveland. “I couldn’t sleep, and I was just, like, highly distracted all the time.”
Ways to cope with the stress
Uncertainty really gets to us, says Lynn Bufka, a psychologist with the APA. “What causes stress and uncertainty is when things feel out of our control, when they seem like we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says.
A good way to cope with all the unknowns is to start by managing our expectations, says Bufka. And then focus on the big picture. Here’s how.
1. Prepare mentally for delayed results
2. Double down on stress-reducing habits
3. Replace scrolling with something nourishing
4. Look for signs of hope