Do You Have Election Stress Disorder?

Do You Have Election Stress Disorder?

Thanks to the negativity surrounding this year’s elections, election stress disorder is said by the American Psychological Association to be affecting 52% of Americans.

This diagnosis was originally coined in developing countries with more instability, and in 2016 is becoming a major epidemic in America.

What are the symptoms of Election Stress Disorder?

More people are feeling anxious and stressed.   We are more prone to rage in driving, at work, and in relationships.   As we take sides, we grow more divided and are unwilling to listen to the views of others. We become more contemptuous and less respectful.   The stress of this election is putting real strain on relationships, both in the home and beyond.

What are the factors that are contributing to this?

We have one of the most contentious elections between the 2 major party presidential candidates in the last 50 years or more.   They are also the 2 most unpopular candidates in modern day history.   Both are using fear of the other, as a driving force to vote for them. Neither of them are trustworthy, and both are being investigated by the FBI or in Federal Court for corrupt practices.   Neither of them inspire us to be our best, and very few people believe that they represent the views of the 99%.

i-dont-want-to-hearThe stress of this election comes many factors: 1.) Many are voting out of fear of the other, and not for the change we want to see.   2.) Many of us are desperate for real change to help the 99%, and most of us don’t believe either candidate will make our lives better.   3.)   There is tremendous fear of either a Trump or Clinton presidency and the ramifications of either taking office.  4.) The media excludes the voices of the 3rd party candidates, and perpetuates the idea that we only have 2 viable choices.   5.) The negativity and disparaging comments made by the campaigns and the media about others gives us subconscious permission to treat others similarly.

Our environment plays a very important role in how we treat each other.   There are countries for example that are known to be more friendly than others, and much of it has to do with their media and how they treat each other.   If we tolerate more rudeness, disrespect and put downs from our leaders and our media, we can expect to see that behavior grow. The people that are the most susceptible to these influences are people that have less control over their emotions.   When the emotional circuits are triggered, the prefrontal cortex should kick in to help us to have control over our impulses.   The prefrontal cortex however does not finish developing until about 25, and that can vary greatly, depending on your environment growing up, your mental health and your education.  Because of the way the brain develops, and declines, children and the elderly are more susceptible to being emotionally triggered. Teachers are expressing a deep concern over the increase in bullying seen at schools, calling it “the Trump effect”.    Stress also impacts our ability to use the prefrontal cortex, and thus our emotional inner child gets unleashed, and that can lead to more strife and tension in relationships.

Now that we know that the elections are stressing us out and negatively impacting our relationships, what should we do about it?

cartoon-reading-paper1.)   Be selective about the news you take in.   The mainstream media dictates what is deemed as important, and by watching or listening, you become a victim of the energy of the news they decide to share with you.   Keep in mind that the mainstream media is more interested increasing their ratings rather than giving you important news that you need to know.   For example they might spend a lot of time covering a murder that makes a good story. Because they spend a lot of time on human interest stories, we may believe the murder rate has gone up, when in reality it hasn’t. Thus we get a distorted view of the world based on what they decide to cover.

The mainstream media also often fails to report on other important things, like the involvement of the US military in foreign countries, on the latest scientific predictions with climate change, or on election fraud (not to be confused with voter fraud).     So be selective about the news you take in. Look for media that focuses on the topics you need to know, rather than media that seeks to manipulate your emotions.   Also I find the news from Canada (ie. CBC radio for example), has a more objective view of the US that we don’t get from the American media.

An easier way to be selective, is to subscribe to publications that you want to follow, and read headlines to determine if you want to learn more. That way you can actively select what you want to hear.

2.) Watch your own stress levels. Take note of how you are feeling when you watch or listen to the news.   Minimize your exposure enough to just take in what you need to know.

3.) Consider voting for what you believe in, not what you fear.    If any of the 3rd party candidates resonate with you, vote for them.  Not only will you feel better about voting for someone that will support your vision of America, but you will be investing your vote as well.   They need 5% of the votes to qualify for federal funding for the next election, and America needs more than 2 choices.

meditation-after-exercise4.) Meditate.     When you meditate, you develop a greater control over your reactions.   You learn through meditation to slow down your brain, be mindful of your emotions, and any desire you might have to react.   That should help reduce tension in your relationships.

This is a stressful time for everyone. That being said, if we want a functioning democracy, it is important to stay engaged.   You can learn more about how to do so without getting too overwhelmed, discouraged or depressed in my article, “How to Stay Informed Without Getting Depressed”.

If you find that you need more help, I help clients decrease the stress response to the things that trigger them.   Helping clients better adjust to their work environment has made work more manageable and saved relationships.   You can learn more about the methods I use here, and contact me at 1 855 ENERJOY for a complimentary consultation.

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Image ‘Trump Versus Clinton Election 2016” courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Depressed Young Woman Sitting At Home” courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “I Don’t Wish To Hear !” courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Cartoon Guy Reading A Newspaper” courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “marin” courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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