AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Are you feeling particularly stressed out about the presidential election?
Chances are, your answer is yes.
More than two-thirds of Americans report the election is a significant source of stress in their life.
Tom Miller talked with Austin-based Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center Regional Clinical Director Dr. Allison Chase about what people are doing to make their anxiety worse, and what helps.
Tom: I want to admit, I’m among the people who have election anxiety. This piqued my interest. Why do so many people feel this way?
Dr. Chase: If you think about the current culture and climate, anxiety is so elevated for everybody right now. We’ve got a pandemic going on, we’ve got some economic unrest unsettling for some, we’ve got parents that are serving not only multiple roles, they’re teachers as well. There are a number of sort of underlying pieces I think increasing everything, and then we have this election.
Tom: There’s a new study that found that 68% of adults are feeling this election anxiety, which is up from 52% the previous presidential election. Why do you think there’s been such an uptick?
Dr. Chase: There is this surge of news and information that’s constantly coming at us and I think it’s sometimes hard to navigate what’s accurate, what’s not accurate the whole big picture, and we have it at our fingertips now. You don’t have to wait until 6 o’clock for the news to come on, or wait for the morning for the newspaper to show up. These days it is everywhere. I just think that influx of information is sometimes just too much for us to handle.
Tom: What are some behaviors that people have that are making this worse?
Dr. Chase: Anytime we catastrophize, we tend to worry about what the future holds in a way that leads us down a path of getting really caught up in very fear-based thoughts and behaviors, it’s going to be a problem. Anxiety is really a physiological response as much as there are emotions and thoughts, cognitions that go with it as well. Whenever you start to move toward that fear-based thinking, you’re going to set yourself up physiologically as well, and that is a big concern.
Tom: Do you think that the constant access to social media and 24/7 news makes things worse?
Dr. Chase: I do. I think news is necessary, and the information is imperative for us to have. What happens is it becomes very hard sometimes to turn it off. As one keeps either seeking for something to find either confirmation for what they’re thinking, or maybe to find evidence to counter what they’re thinking, and it takes us down this what I would call kind of this rabbit hole phenomenon. That is problematic, and it’s hard to turn off.
Tom: What behaviors or practices can people engage in to help alleviate some of the stress they’re feeling?
Dr. Chase: It is really imperative to try to put a time limit or containment on how much news you take in. Whether you have to set a timer for yourself, whether you have to have somebody be your accountability buddy to turn it off, something needs to happen so that you don’t end up getting too caught up in the cycle. It’s really important to try to stay as present as one can, and again that’s where we hear so much about mindfulness, and the use of strategies in which to keep our bodies physiologically more relaxed and contained. If these symptoms of anxiety that one is feeling and experiencing seem to be interfering in one’s life, like they’re having trouble with their sleep patterns or eating patterns, or really withdrawing or having conflict with peers in a way that’s creating problems, you really should think about seeking professional help.
2020 ELECTION COVERAGE
- Trump ally, former NJ governor Chris Christie: president's election fraud claims are a 'national embarrassment'In an interview on Sunday, former New Jersey Governor and frequent Trump aide Christie condemned the Trump team's challenges against the victory of president-elect Joe Biden as "a national embarrassment."
- President Donald Trump’s campaign has requested a recount of votes in the Georgia presidential race, a day after state officials certified results showing Democrat Joe Biden won the state.
- Georgia’s top elections official on Friday certified results showing Democrat Joe Biden won the presidential race in the state after a hand tally stemming from a mandatory audit affirmed the Democrat’s lead over Republican President Donald Trump.
- Fighting to challenge an election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump has launched a barrage of lawsuits across the country. Top Republicans have stood behind him and said they will wait for those cases to be resolved before officially recognizing the winner, a standard that has no modern precedent.
- WILMINGTON, Del. (NEXSTAR/AP)- President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris held a news conference Thursday afternoon after meeting with the National Governor Association's leadership team. The National Governor Association's leadership team is comprised of five Republicans and four Democrats. According to the Associated Press, all of the Democrats and a majority of the Republicans […]
- Democratic Party officials in Virginia sent a letter Thursday to Richmond's Electoral Board calling for the resignation of the city's general registrar, J. Kirk Showalter, or for the board to dismiss Showalter over her handling of the 2020 election.
- A divide has begun to emerge among Democrats between the progressive and moderate wings of the party, stemming from a disappointing election performance.
- SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — When Gov. Brian Kemp won election two years ago, he pushed back forcefully against an outcry from Democrats who accused him of suppressing voter turnout to improve his odds of winning. “Look, we have laws on the books that prevent elections from being stolen from anyone,” Kemp, who oversaw that election […]
- Virginia's election results were certified Wednesday during a brief state Board of Elections meeting, two days after they were initially scheduled to be finalized.
- In normal times, the certification of election results is a routine process that doesn’t get much attention. But these are not normal times. As part of an ongoing series of attacks on the integrity of the election, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies are trying to stop the formal certification of results in some […]