(RNS) — Nadia Bolz-Weber knows what she’ll need on Election Day. Bolz-Weber has already voted. The public theologian and ordained Lutheran pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time this year, throwing her support behind former Vice President Joe Biden. What she’ll need Tuesday (Nov. 3) as she awaits the result is what she has described as “spiritual Xanax” — something to keep her from watching news coverage all day, to help her stay focused and remember what’s important.
“I am tired of feeling afraid all the time. It’s just not productive,” Bolz-Weber said.
She’s not the only one. This year’s presidential election is a source of stress and anxiety for most Americans.
The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey put the number of people reporting “significant” election-related stress at nearly 70% this month, compared to 52% in 2016. That reaches across aisles to majorities in both political parties, though Democrats report feeling more stressed than Republicans.
Not only do the stakes feel high in the contest between Biden and President Donald Trump, two wildly different candidates, but its results feel uniquely uncertain. Experts have warned it may take longer than usual for all votes to be counted due to the pandemic and record early voting, and some fear violence might erupt, as the president has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose.
Amid a pandemic, after a summer of mass protests and civil unrest, and facing an uncertain and polarizing election, Americans are on edge. And so a number of religious leaders, houses of worship, and faith-based organizations are planning spiritual care to help their communities handle the fear, stress, and anxiety throughout the Election Day.