How to keep the debate and election from causing stress

Haley Hinds reports

- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are going head-to-head for the third and final debate Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

With less than three weeks separating us from Election Day, you may be feeling increasingly stressed about it. You're not alone. Political anxiety is affecting people across the country.

It's on TV. It's all over social media. It's everywhere.

"Family, friends, it's a constant conversation," said John Sansonetti. "Even at work, it's a confrontation."

This year, it seems there's no escape from political debate.

"I just want it to be over and I want to know who the winner is already," said Leslie Esposito.

A new study done by the American Psychological Association found that 52-percent of adults - Republicans and Democrats - find the 2016 election to be a "very" or "somewhat significant" source of stress. Millennials and those over 71 are feeling it the most. And a Monmouth University poll showed 7-percent of Americans said the election has actually cost them a friendship.

"People who let their friendships suffer because they disagree on politics are, in my opinion, not very mature," said Alison Montgomery. "Every human being is fully capable of having a rational conversation with someone about politics without destroying their friendship."

Dr. Wendy Rice from Rice Psychology Group in Tampa recently wrote a blog on preserving relationships despite the strain of differing political views. She has some advice.

"I think people get angry and can develop kind of a group-think mentality and almost stop thinking for themselves," Rice said. "I think it's okay to not talk about it. I think that if you're talking to somebody that's going to try to force their ideas down your throat or you know that it's going to be really uncomfortable, it's okay to skip it in conversation."

Experts also suggest these tips:
- Step away from social media. Digital breaks will help de-stress your mind.
- You can also channel your stress into something positive like volunteering for a group you believe in.
- If you do debate, focus on issues, not personal attacks.

"I think you can call a truce," Rice said. "I think you can have a safe zone. I think that maybe - tonight is the debate - you can agree to talk about it until this time and then we have to turn it off and talk about other things."

And one final tip: vote. Don't just talk or argue about it. The APA says taking that action is a proactive step and it'll make you feel better. Early voting starts next Monday here in Florida.

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