2020 Presidential Election brings stress, anxiety to Americans

A new survey from the American Psychological Association shows about 70% of American adults see the 2020 Presidential election as a big source of stress for them.

Fox 11 spoke with psychiatrists about why the election is creating stress and anxiety for people.

RELATED: Law enforcement on heightened alert for Election Day

"If you're feeling something, that's good, and that's normal. You should be feeling something because there's a lot going on right now. There's a lot to process. It probably means you have a pulse if you're feeling anxious right now," said Dr. Chandler Chang, a Clinical Psychologist and the Owner of Therapy Lab in California and Texas.

Dr. Chang said the election feels personal for many.

"This is really not just metaphorically life and death, but for many, this is life and death and there's been death this year. We're in the middle of a pandemic. We've really seen more clearly racial injustice and some pretty stark realities have come to the surface this year. This election was already going to be heated, but I think for many people, the stakes feel critical.

She also spoke about the feelings of division that are evident in the U.S.  

"In some elections, we're kind of into it, kind of checked in, kind of checked out. I think many people are checked in [for this election], and they've gone through conflict with a family member or a Facebook fight. Some of us have experienced that and it feels really personal," said Chang.

Chang recommends staying in a routine, and to "reframe, reboot, and refocus."

Dr. Ricardo Whyte, the Medical Director and Section Chief of Psychiatric Services for the Dignity Health Community Hospital of San Bernardino, shared thoughts and advice on how to cope.

"It's all gonna come down to what you focus on, and if we make the mistake of focusing and applying mental energy to things we can't control, it can shift us into the realm of worry. How we function much better is when we divert mental energy to what we actually can control. An important mantra that I live by is doing the best that I can. That's all I can do and then learn from my mistakes," he said.

Dr. Whyte said it's important to focus on things that we can control.

"What can I do? Can I be informed in my voting? Can I be active in the process? Can I make sure I'm encouraging others to get out there and make their voice heard? After that, you have to rest back and know, all I can do is the best that I can," said Whyte.

Whyte said 2020 has been a test to resilience.

"The usual things that we can cope with are not as available. Usually, we could fall back on 'hey, let me go enjoy a concert or let me go visit my mom or let me get a hug from my grandmother or let's let the kids have a playdate.' Some of those resources have not been as available, and what that does is it tests resilience. It tests your ability to make adjustments," he said.

While businesses are boarding up, and causing a lot of anxiety, Whyte said it's important to focus on other things.

"Catastrophizing is not going to be useful either so you prepare. You get your resources and so on and so forth, but at the same time, know that we're gonna survive this as a country. A review of our history will document that we have survived some pretty amazing things, and I think this will be one of those things," he said.

The survey from the American Psychological Association also found that the majority of people say the election is a significant source of stress no matter their political affiliation with 76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans, and 64% of Independents saying so.

The survey also found that for some groups, the anxiety about the election is higher than compared with 2016.

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