You’ve been bombarded with campaign coverage for weeks on end, and now, with election day tomorrow, your nerves on frayed and your nights are sleepless. You turn on television news and find the polls are tightening. Your anxiety about the outcome for your presidential candidate grows.
Would it help to know that others share your pain?
Tuesday’s election is causing a significant amount of stress for more than half of all Americans, according to a survey of 3,500 adults The American Psychological Association conducted in August. It doesn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat. APA researchers said 59 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats said the election is giving them either somewhat significant or very significant stress.
Intense concern is causing symptoms such as a sinking or doomed feeling, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, sweaty palms, shortness of breath and heart palpitations, he said.
If you don’t want to spend the next 48 hours in a state of near panic, take some advice on managing stress from Dr. Asim Shah, vice chair for community psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He gave these tips to the Los Angeles Times:
- Back away from TV news.
Read, don’t watch, election coverage. Reading about the news is very different from the immediate emotion you experience watching TV news. You can listen to the headlines at the start or finish of the day and then move on to watching something that has nothing to do with the election.
- Put your fears about the election down on paper.
Writing down your worst fears about the outcome can help you recognize at least some of them aren’t going to happen. Think about them one at a time, and fact check what is possible.
- Realize that change is not coming overnight.
Take a realistic look at what is going to happen after the next president’s January inauguration. Gridlock has consumed Washington, D.C. for years, and government bureaucracy makes it difficult for any president to move new initiatives ahead quickly. Remember how much opposition either candidate will face from the other political party. “You have to be realistic,” said Shah. “There is no need to be stressed about something that likely won’t happen.”
- Seek medication if stress interferes with your daily life.
Ask your doctor for help if you must. If your stress is impairing your ability to function, prescription medication may be effective. Talk to your doctor if you can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, or can’t leave the house.
Win or lose on election night, use caution and keep your emotions under control. Remember that your children are watching and learning from you. Now is not the time to denigrate an entire political party as your children listen.
“We can’t say all Democrats or all Republicans are bad,” Shah said. “Blanket statements don’t work.”