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How to cope with election season stress

"Regardless of political party affiliation, people are feeling distressed."

ATLANTA — From the TV to your cell phone and inboxes and mailboxes, the reminders of the 2020 race are all around us. As campaigns ramp up efforts, you're not alone if your anxiety is ramping up, too.

"Regardless of political party affiliation, people are feeling distressed," Dr. Valdesha DeJean of Georgia Psychological Treatment Center told 11Alive. 

"Most people don't want this level of descension," she said, adding she's seen a surge of patients feeling anxious given the unknowns of the election. 

The American Psychological Association documented similar trends in a July survey, reporting 62% of Republicans and 77% of Democrats cite the current political climate as a significant source of stress. Factor in a pandemic and financial concerns and Dr. DeJean says the 2020 race can take on an even greater meaning. 

"With the stakes so high, people are more passionate and more vocal than I've ever seen," she said, adding the common thread among those most stressed can be traced to social media usage.

"Those who are most distressed have been overly inundating themselves with social media," she said. "Limiting exposure to political news through television or social media...that is key to feeling better for many people."

Other ways to cope? She says avoid debating and arguing with others.

"It's unlikely to make you feel better if you're already stressed or overwhelmed," she said.  

Physical exercises such as practicing mindfulness and breathing exercises can also help alleviate anxiety. 

"Another thing you can do is channel that energy into volunteering or getting politically involved," Dr. DeJean said. "It's likely to make you feel better if you're doing your part to make a difference."

As a reminder, Dr. DeJean reinforced the importance of seeking professional help if you're struggling.

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