Feeling anxious about the election? Join the crowd.
Regardless of one’s political leanings, everyone can agree that this presidential campaign has caused more anxiety than most, if not all. The ingredients concoct a recipe for a nail-biting anxiety: combative and often offensive rhetoric, Wikileaks disclosures, the suggestion of Russia’s role in tampering with our democratic process, a party at odds with itself due to its own candidate – all combine for a nasty plate of political heartburn.
And it’s no wonder. The media onslaught is quite literally mind-boggling. The latest of who’s up in the polls, who’s down, the repeated images of the two candidates in a primal stance of attack, nose-to-nose, churn through the media faster than we can read it, let alone process it. The hype feeds our anxiety as we watch a race that we have absolutely no control over until voting day. That’s well more than a year of feeling helpless as the parties duke it out much like the oversized hulks of a pro wrestling match – a match in which the spectators lay bruised from the punches.
The latest of who’s up in the polls, who’s down, the repeated images of the two candidates in a primal stance of attack, nose-to-nose, churn through the media faster than we can read it, let alone process it.
There are the paid political ads that fuel the anxiety fire as well. They offer an easy platform for vitriol, an untethered leash to go on the attack, leaving observers with an even heavier task of separating fact from fiction. While some argue, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, that the fundamental principle of free press is under pressure due to mass government surveillance in the name of heightened national security (among other reasons), we know that a paid ad is intrinsically untrustworthy. But they keep on coming.
What is an observer to do?
If the tension is getting to you, you’re not alone. Recently, therapists have asserted that 50 to 90 percent of their patients have expressed anxiety about the campaign, according to an October U.S. News & World Report article. A survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA) on October 13 supports those assertions: 52 percent of US adults say the election is causing them to feel very or somewhat stressed.
As devastating as it may seem watching the debates or reading an op/ed column that takes a direct hit at one’s political views, we can be sure of one thing: tomorrow the sun will rise.
However, as with many challenges, we can take steps to protect our psyches from the rabid dog known as politics. The APA offers common-sense tactics that include the following:
- Limit your media consumption
- Avoid conversations that have the potential to escalate to conflict
- Refocus your energies to making a positive difference on issues that concern you
Also, guess what? Life will go on after the election, regardless of its outcome, the APA reminds us. As devastating as it may seem watching the debates or reading an op/ed column that takes a direct hit at one’s political views, we can be sure of one thing: tomorrow the sun will rise.
We can’t control that today’s political coverage responds to the same attention-getting tactics as the modern weather forecast: the endless, drum-rolling hyperbole that tomorrow’s two inches of snow is a ‘storm’ that should have us running for cover. However, you can control how you respond to it. Indeed, the 2016 election has offered a fresh – if perverse – opportunity to strengthen our resiliency tactics.