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It's not just you: Half of Americans are stressed by the election

Social media is playing a significant role in making Americans more stressed this election season.
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Can't wait until Nov. 9 and the 2016 elections are over? Neither can tens of millions of other Americans – and social media is a major cause.

The "adversarial" contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, blanket media coverage, and social media arguments have the majority of Americans at breaking point, according to a study by the American Psychological Association.

It found that 52 percent of Americans reported the 2016 election is a "very or somewhat significant source of stress," after Harris Poll conducted an online survey on adults – with Republicans slightly more stressed than Democrats.

Those who use social media, a breeding ground for anonymous trolls and extreme views, are more likely to be stressed out by the election than those who don't, 54 percent to 45 percent.

"We’re seeing that it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican — U.S. adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election," said Lynn Bufka, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy.

"Election stress becomes exacerbated by arguments, stories, images and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory."

Other findings from the study include:

  • 38 percent of adults say political and cultural discussions on social media causes them stress.
  • Men and women are equally likely to be stressed.
  • Millennials and "matures" (born before 1945) are more stressed than Generation Xers and baby boomers.

The APA suggests people who want to limit their stress should limit their media consumption.

"Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the newsfeed or take a digital break," it says. "Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy."

It also suggests avoiding getting into discussions about the election "if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict."

Healthline has a series of suggestions for anyone planning on engaging politically on social media this election season.

If that doesn't work, here's an hour-long cat video from YouTube.

MPR also has this picture of the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area that it calls a "cure for politics."

To find news, commentary, and local events leading up to the 2016 election, head to Go Vote MN.

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