How much has the presidential election stressed you out?

For the past 10 years, the American Psychological Association has conducted its "Stress In America" survey. Overall stress levels have been decreasing for Americans, with the August 2016 poll showing the lowest overall reported stress level.

But all that changed last month, when newly elected President Donald Trump took office.

In the January survey, 49 percent of Americans were concerned about the election, 66 percent were concerned about the future of the nation and 57 percent were worried about the current political climate.

Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice at the ADA, says it was the first survey in ten years that actually saw stress about the election.

Post-election 'chill pill'

Here's how Nordal says you can avoid political stress:

— Stay informed but do not be consumed by the news.

— Pare down your sources of information and check them less frequently.

— Take media breaks before bedtime and learn to manage conflict effectively.

She also says it's important to understand other people's point of view.

Nordal says the election signifies a change, which makes people feel uncertain and leads to stress.

Exposure to so much social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,  did not help the anxiety and stress, she said.

"People were just consumed by the amount of information and so there is a need, I think to stay informed but not particularly to be consumed by it."

Typically, the survey studies normal sources of stress: jobs, money and the economy.

But Nordal says in the spring of 2016, doctors reported their patients were more anxious about the presidential election. Based on that feedback, the APA inquired for the first time about Americans' stress related to the election.

In the January survey, Nordal says there were no increases in stress around jobs, the economy and money.

"But we were seeing increased reports of stress related to concerns about personal safety, acts of terrorism and police violence against minorities" says Nordal.

The new survey found that between August 2016 and January 2017, Americans' overall average reported stress level rose from 4.8 to 5.1 on a 10-point scale.

For more on the Stress in America 2017 report and for information related to stress and stress management, visit www.stressinamerica.org.

 

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