Written by Anthoney- Lewis
November 11, 2016
Montgomery, AL– The 2016 United States Presidential Elections has come to an end. Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. During the election season many Americans experienced high levels of stress, anxiety, and even depression. Many Americans are still experiencing these things even after the elections.
The results of this year’s election were a big surprise to our nation. Many are worried about what lies ahead for the future of our country. This can be referred to as election stress or election anxiety.
According to The Atlantic, clinical psychologist Stephen Holland reported that two thirds- three quarters of his organization’s patients are mentioning their feelings about the elections in sessions. Fox News reports that one study suggests that one in four Americans feel less productive at work because of the political discussions happening in the workplace.
Research from the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that 52 % of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. The survey was conducted online among adults 18+ living in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association. In addition, those registered as Democrats (55 %) and Republicans (59 %) are statistically equally likely to say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.
Social Media has a strong impact on Americans’ stress levels when it comes to the election and related topics. According to APA, nearly 4 in 10 adults (38 %) say that political and cultural discussions on social media cause them stress. In addition, adults who use social media are more likely than adults who do not to say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress (54 % vs. 45 %, respectively).
Election stress differs among generations of Americans. Research from the APA suggests that millennials and “matures” are the most likely to say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress (56 % vs. 59 %, respectively) — significantly more than Generation Xers (45 %) but not boomers (50 %).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines stress as a condition that is often characterized by symptoms of physical or emotional tension. It is a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. Stress can be positive (e.g., preparing for a wedding) or negative (e.g., dealing with a natural disaster).
According to the CDC, some of the common reactions to a stressful event include disbelief, shock, and numbness; feeling sad, frustrated, and helpless; fear and anxiety about the future; feeling guilty; anger, tension, and irritability; and difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Other reactions may include crying, reduced interest in usual activities, wanting to be alone, loss of appetite, sleeping too much or too little, and smoking or use of alcohol and drugs.
There are ways to help manage election stress and anxiety. If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims from the candidates is causing you stress, APA recommends that you limit your media consumption. Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the newsfeed or take a digital break. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy.
APA also suggests avoiding getting into discussions about the election if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict. Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the election with friends, family members or coworkers.
Stress and anxiety about what might happen to our country is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. One tip APA offers is to consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group. Remember that in addition to the presidential election, there are state and local elections taking place in many parts of the country, providing more opportunities for civic involvement.
Engaging in healthy activities and getting the right care and support can put problems in perspective and help stressful feelings subside in a few days or weeks. The CDC proposes taking care of yourself by eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising on a regular basis, getting plenty of sleep, and giving yourself a break if you feel stressed out
In addition, you can share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor. The CDC warns us to avoid drugs and alcohol because in the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling. In addition, if your stress is caused by a national or local event, take breaks from listening to the news stories, which can increase your stress.
If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor.
All rights reserved, Gumptown Magazine. Copyright 2016.