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Studies show Americans are seriously stressed about politics

Posted at 7:00 AM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 08:00:50-05

As the 2020 Presidential Election approaches, research shows Americans are becoming more stressed about politics.

In a September 2019 report, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, researchers found 30% of people surveyed reported politics triggered feelings of anger, frustration, hate or guilt, or led them to make comments they later regretted.

Forty percent of respondents to the survey said they experienced stress as a result of politics. Roughly one-fifth of those people said they were so stressed they'd lost sleep, become fatigued, or suffered depression.

Dr. Michael Cichy, a clinical psychologist with Ascension Medical Group, said he's noticed a rise in politics-related stress in people since the 2016 election.

"I think this has been promoted by the media coverage, which is 24/7, as well as by social media, which is quite often not as reliable but can be very intense feeling," Cichy said.

He also thinks people have become more likely to discuss politics more frequently in recent years.

"It's more commonly now a topic discussed in a variety of settings you wouldn't expect: while waiting in line at the grocery story, or maybe while watching one of your children play sports," Cichy said.

In a different survey by the research firm Gartner, 78% of a total of 500 American workers questioned reported talking about politics at work.

Forty-seven percent of those people said the 2020 Presidential Election has impacted their ability to get work done, either because they're spending more time consuming political news, or because political conversations at work have made the environment less collaborative due to disagreements among coworkers.

Cichy has some simple advice for people who want to avoid getting sucked into conversations with someone they disagree with politically.

"Try to change the subject if you can, or perhaps busy yourself with some other activity," Cichy said.

He also said there's an easy way to avoid sharing who you're voting for if you don't want to disclose that information.

"When someone asks me for whom I plan to vote, I always tell them I haven't decided yet," Cichy said.

Cichy said anyone feeling stressed about the 2020 election should cut back on the amount of news he or she is absorbing, as well as focus on exercising more, sleeping better, and spending time with family and friends.

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