Owen Keehnen, a writer and historian in Chicago, is falling asleep over the election. He panicked about 3 a.m. about five times a week for the past few months, he said.
"As the election approaches, I feel an overwhelming amount of fear," said 60-year-old Keehnen. “It seems so much depends on choice when it comes to rights across the board and everything else. It really ruined my sleep. "
About half a mile south in West Columbia, S.C., Monica L. Amick-Cassidy, a former government employee, this election season has come to terms with what she believes is triggering her depression.
Ms. Amick-Cassidy 45 said she felt the most stressed out when she scrolled through Facebook, where she discovered stories from her local news channel.
"I try to hang up my phone and get away from it and read or knit, but reading Facebook and Twitter is almost an addiction," she said.
Mr Keehn and Ms Amick-Cassidy are not alone in managing stress in this election cycle, a reality only compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
About two-thirds of Americans in 2017 said concerns about the country's future were a major source of their stresses about money and work. That is according to a report published earlier this year by the American Psychological Association entitled "Stress in America: The State of Our Nation."
The poll found that the majority of people from both political parties were stressed about the so-called "current social divide". However, those numbers were higher for Democrats at 73 percent than Republicans at 56 percent and Independents at 59 percent.
A 2019 study in PLOS One showed that political engagement can have a negative impact on someone's health and friendships. The study found that the political right had fewer negative effects than the left.
The researchers found that of the 800 people surveyed, about 18 percent said they lost their sleep because of politics, and more than 29 percent said they lost their temper because of politics. More than 11 percent said the politics had affected their physical health, and more than 26 percent said they got depressed when a preferred candidate lost.
And now the time has come: Election Day 2020. After billions of dollars spent on campaigning in a particularly difficult and stressful year, the end is finally in sight.
However, the latest US polls don't finish until 1:00 a.m. in the east, and even then, there are several scenarios where we may not know the results some time later. Here are some tips on how you can survive the long long hours until then, no matter which candidate you choose.
Your phone doesn't help.
You might be very similar to Ms. Amick-Cassidy – you read the news on your phone and then sometimes feel more stressed out. Especially on election day, think about how much you want to stick on your device.
Allison Eden, associate professor of communications at Michigan State University, said that while it is important to watch out for election results, setting the necessary constraints can help you get through. She suggested deleting social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok from your phone. It can help to just make them a little harder to access.
"You would have to access it through a website or a device that is not readily available," she said of the apps. "However, if you remove the logo from your phone, the less likely you will click on it." Eliminating notifications can also help reduce stress, she said.
Nov. 3, 2020, 6:33 p.m. ET
This also applies to your television. Keeping cable news in the background throughout the day when there are no results to report can put you even more stressed.
"Sometimes people have a hard time even knowing they have a problem until they check how much time they spend on their phones," said Professor Eden.
Find other things to do.
There are many hours to fill in before any results flow in.
Professor Eden suggested changing the environment to control anxiety. "You can have people who can tell you what's going on," she said. "You can invite people to an election night watchman party and after they leave, turn them off."
You can also try moving your phone to another room in hopes that tiredness will outweigh the desire to read the news.
Dr. Brittany LeMonda, a senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, suggested that the hours normally spent reading articles or thinking about the news should be focused on something you enjoy. "Take a long walk or watch movies that make you feel good," she said. “Go to a bookstore and find a new book to read. Go to a cafe and have lunch in a socially detached way. something that will fill your cup a little. "
When should you be prepared for news?
OK, you made it through most of the day and some returns started around 7:00 PM. Eastern time when some of the first polls close.
It is important not to expect full results for a number of reasons, but most importantly because the increase in email voting as a result of the pandemic may delay full results in several key states. Some states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, may not have official censuses for several days.
And remember, at the start and end of the night, the results are skewed in some places due to the order in which different types of votes are reported.
What if your preferred candidate doesn't win?
Even after you've got through the day, your stress may not go away.
"It's going to be a roller coaster," said Dr. Victor Fornari, a psychiatrist at Northwell Health Hospital on Long Island. “These emotions will be a long time coming. Insecurity creates fear. I think this is going to be a very scared time because like I said people are so passionate in one way or another and that level of anxiety is going to cause a lot of stress. "