Here's How The Election Really Affects Your Brain

If the uncertainty of this year's presidential election has you stress eating while glued to the TV, you aren't alone. According to a recent survey, more than half of Americans claim their mental health is suffering due to the election. And new research from University of California San Francisco warns that those living in states that favor the losing candidate may be likely to experience more days of stress and depression than those in states backing the eventual president-elect (via ABC7). 

"The situation is worsened by the pandemic," says study author Renee Y. Hsia, M.D., in a press release. "The pandemic, as well as the economic downturn, are resulting in more isolation and loneliness. Americans are worried about disease spread, and they have heightened fears about job security, keeping a roof over their heads and ensuring their children are keeping up at school." And oh, yeah, we're still trying to determine who will be the leader of the free world for the next four years. Nothing to worry about here!

Here's what you can do to take control of election stress

According to Healthline, researcher and licensed therapist Jason Woodrum has coined the term "election stress disorder" to decribe this frazzled feeling. "This uncertainty that's in the air for months on end can often manifest in a loss of sleep, irritability, anxiety, and depression," Woodrum says. "With elections come large-scale changes and actions on a societal level that lie directly outside of control of any one of us individually."

That being said, there are actions you can take to help reduce stress. For example, donate to a cause you believe in, make sure you are eating right, squeeze in exercise or a quick walk, and limit your intake of social media and cable news by turning it off or stepping away if needed. "Media narratives and horse race coverage of polls exacerbate this sensation, with constant ups and downs related to the standing of the candidate of our choice," Woodrum says. "In many ways, it's like watching a version of the Super Bowl that lasts a year as opposed to 3 hours."