How to Stay Calm This Election Day

Stop looking at exit polls, experts say.

— -- After a seemingly endless campaign season, Election Day has finally arrived. The polarizing campaign has put so many people in both political parties on edge, that the American Psychological Association (APA) has pointed to Election Day as a significant source of stress.

Vaile Wright, a licensed psychologist and member of APA's Stress in America Team, said even the biggest poll junkies need to take time to unwind. Here are some of her tips for staying sane this Election Day.

Do an Activity Unrelated to the Election

If you're biting your nails as you obsessively check your social media feeds and exit polls, Wright says do something that takes you away from your screens.

"Do some non-election related [activity] today," said Wright. Meditating, praying or doing yoga can help clear the mind of election news, she said.

"I think one of the things people need to do is just take care of themselves," said Wright. "Do some activities that are soothing."

Relaxation techniques, which includes activities such as yoga and meditation, have been shown in medical studies to relieve stress. The National Institutes of Health found that 85 percent of people who practice yoga said it helped to reduce their stress levels.

Turn Off the TV (or Computer or Phone)

Wright says that compulsively watching news about the election is probably not going to reduce any nerves or anxiety.

"[Give] yourself permission to pay attention to it," said Wright, but do not make it "your sole focus."

While she knows many will eagerly want to watch the results come in, if the stress is too much, Wright advises either turning off the TV or going to another room to do something else.

"You'll find out in the morning, if you don't want to watch" the results, she said.

Take a Few Deep Breaths

Another simple way to bring down your heart rate is doing a basic breathing exercise. Simply breathe in deeply for a few seconds -- Wright recommends about three or four seconds -- hold your breath for a moment and then slowly breathe out.

"Focusing on your breathing is one of the easiest things you can do," said Wright. "That is something where you'll feel an immediate reaction."

It's also an exercise you can do anywhere including "waiting in line to vote," said Wright.


If you're obsessively following the election, Wright has one very simple piece of advice: go vote. Taking action will help relieve stress around Election Day, no matter which party you belong to.

"What we've been telling people is to vote early," Wright said.

Knowing where your polling place is and knowing when you're going to vote, can all help reduce stress surrounding the election, said Wright.