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Americans Feeling More Stress In 2020 Election Than In 2016

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A poll by the American Psychological Association found that two-thirds of U.S. adults said the presidential election is stressing them out this year, compared to just over half of adults in 2016.

The past year and the upcoming uncertainty of the next few weeks can be pushing on stress points for many people.

Here are some tips for dealing with this stress.

“We’re not innately designed to handle this, this chronic stress,” said Travis Mickelson, the medical director of mental health integration at Intermountain Healthcare.

Mickelson said the stress of uncertainty this election season triggers a fight or flight response in our bodies – causing increased blood pressure, stomach issues, tense muscles, and increasing our risk for long-term chronic health issues, like diabetes and heart disease.

“It’s a big – the big time, and stressful for all of us,” said Meikel Reece, a community advocate specifically working on anti-racism.

Reece said she has felt the stress of the election this year, as and has seen it in her community.

“Really, what 2020 has done, has taken away all the illusions that we have built up to remain comfortable,” she said.

KSL TV posted a question on social about how the stress has impacted Utahns. The responses ran the gambit.

Aside from worries about COVID-19, people have been thinking about possible unrest after the election, no matter the winner. Others said their anxiety was from wondering if affordable healthcare will be limited or had concerns that their same-sex marriage would be overturned.

Dr. Mickelson suggested practicing mindfulness to help our bodies cope. It will help, but in many cases, it won’t solve the stress outright.

“When someone says you should practice mindfulness, that’s going to solve all of your problems. That’s not true,” he said. “That might be invalidating… if I’m really worried about the fact that I don’t have money to pay for rent.”

Mindfulness isn’t about fixing our problems, he said. It’s about helping you cope.

“That could help me be more resilient so that I can be stronger and be better able to adapt to this current stressful situation that I’m in,” he said.

Both he and Reece recommended taking a moment every day to recognize the positive things in our lives – the things that are going well – and staying in the present moment.

“Taking a second to even, like, put your hand on your heart and just be like, I’m here, and I’m going to be okay,” Reece said.

You can follow Reece on her Instagram page @mixedwomxn. She’ll have tips on how to get through Election Day.

For more resources, you can call the Intermountain Healthcare Emotional Health Relief Hotline at 833-442-2211. It’s free and help is available 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

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