FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, 68% of American adults say the election is a significant source of stress.

That’s up from 52% back in 2016.

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Businesses in downtown Dallas and Victory Park boarded up their windows ahead of Election Day, a visible sign of the fear of potential unrest and the political unknown.

“Whomever wins, we’ve heard stories that the other side is going to do something to affect some damage,” said Heather Evetts, who owns two businesses in Victory Park. “That’s not something we’re used to seeing and it’s certainly something that’s alarming.”

Experts say election anxiety is real, and it’s amplified by the ongoing pandemic and concerns about the economy.

“I think the mental health impact of 2020 is going to be severe,” said Dr. Eugene Lipov, the chief medical officer for the Stella Center. He specializes in treating PTSD and other stress-related disorders.

Dr. Lipov says the continued stress of the year is causing irritability, panic attacks, and sleep disruptions for many people. With so many unknowns, it might not get better after Election Day.

“Will there be violence after the election?” he said. “Will there be more stress? Is it going to be scary to walk down the street?”

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Experts say the best thing you can do is focus on what you can control.

“We may have to live with this uncertainty for awhile, but the way we look at it, the way we think about it, can definitely address the anxiety we’re feeling about it,” said Denise Catalano, a professor in the UNT College of Health and Public Service.

Catalano says it may mean reminding yourself of your own resilience.

“And if you remember that you were able to master something or come through something difficult, it kind of leads to you feeling more, a sense of strength, about what you’re capable of doing,” she said.

Other ways to ease the stress:

Deep breaths or meditation
Get a lot of sleep
Spend time with loved ones, even if it’s through Zoom
Take a break from social media or TV if it becomes too overwhelming


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Caroline Vandergriff