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The 2020 US Election Is Proving More Stressful for Americans, Study Shows

A Harris Poll for the American Psychological Association has found that 68% of Americans feel the 2020 Election is a cause of stress in their life

Published on October 7, 2020

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A poll conducted by Harris for the American Psychological Association (APA) has shown that Americans are feeling more stressed during the 2020 Presidential elections than they did in 2016. In the 2020 study, more than two-thirds (68%) of American adults said the election was "a significant source of stress in their life", a notable increase from the 2016 election when 52% said the same.

The research found that the stress is also cutting across party lines, with 76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of Independents saying they were feeling stressed by this year's election.

2020 has also seen an increase in the number of Americans saying the future of the nation is a source of stress for them. 77% of respondents described America's future as a source of stress, compared with In 2019, 66% just a year ago.

Discussing the findings, Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, said that "This has been a year unlike any other in living memory ... 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."

The APA has suggested some evidence-based approaches to help people manage their stress at this difficult time, including staying active, taking a break from watching or listening to the news, engaging in meaningful activities, and staying socially connected. The APA are also preparing people for the possibility that the result will not be announced on election day, explaining that Americans should "realize that we might not know who won the election on Election Day. If you think this will raise your anxiety, keep busy with things that you enjoy and stay connected to social support so that you aren't continually checking for what could be viewed as "bad" news."

Another study published this week has also highlighted that Americans are struggling to discuss political issues in 2020. In a survey of 5,000 people from America, Brazil, Germany, India and the UK conducted by The Dialogue Project, researchers found that in the US, 82% of respondents said people "need to be more respectful when talking with those who hold opposing views", while 57% of respondents said that "having respectful conversations with those of differing opinions" is a significant problem.

Responding to this second study, Bob Feldman, the founder of the Dialogue Project, said that "We must find a way to break out of the paralysis of tribal politics, information bubbles, suspicion and incivility in which we find ourselves ... American business is one of the few places where people from different nationalities, religions, political beliefs often encounter others with differing opinions. The success a number of businesses have had in helping employees and communities discuss difficult issues is intriguing and shines a light on how these initiatives provide potential solutions."

For the full details on the Dialogue Project's study, go to www.dialogueproject.study/. If you're feeling particularly stressed or anxious about anything, check out the APA's helpful website, www.stressinamerica.org, for more research, insights and advice on managing stress.

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