If the American election is bumming you out, you’re not alone

by | Oct 31, 2016 | Focus

Takeaway: According to the American Psychological Association, more than 50% of Americans are stressed because of this year’s election. Luckily, the same survey found that disconnecting from the news and social media are a way to minimize that stress.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 8s.



If you live in the US, you’ll probably agree that this election is a stressful one—regardless of which political party you support.

While observing the election, I’ve found myself more bummed out than usual—and that as the election drags on for longer, I’ve become increasingly depressed. I say this as a Canadian who usually finds US elections oddly intriguing to watch. Every time I step back from the news and resist visiting sites like The New York Times and Five Thirty Eight, I feel more energized, motivated, and happy. But when I decide to catch up on the news, my mood is dampened all over again. It pretty much sucks the life out of me.

As it happens, I’m not alone. The American Psychological Association (APA) recently released the results of a survey into how stressed this election was making people. What they found was astounding: more than half of Americans are experiencing significant levels of stress because of the election. And, curiously:

  • The party you support doesn’t matter: 59% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats called this election a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.” From a statistical standpoint, this difference is insignificant.
  • Your age matters a little, but not a ton: 59% of those over the age of 71, and 56% of those aged 19-37 say the election is a large source of stress. Those in between fared a bit better, but not by much—half of those aged 52-70, and 45% of those aged 38-51 were stressed by it.

But there’s a silver lining: the APA also found that those who didn’t use social media experienced significantly less stress. While 54% of American adults are experiencing significant stress from the election, that figure is reduced to 45% for those adults not using social media during the election period–9% fewer people. I’d love to see a similar stat for people who both don’t go on social media and aren’t keeping up with the news.

Whether election season or not, it’s worth keeping in mind that we are what we consume. When we predominately read gloomy and scary stories, we feel sad and afraid. When we watch news about an overwhelming presidential race, we feel stressed.

We almost always have the choice of whether or not we consume a piece of information. While news may be entertaining, and may feel important in the moment, don’t forget to step back and consider how it could affect you and your mood. If you’re anything like me, you may find it’s not worth consuming in the first place.


Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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