Handling Election Stress

Stressed about the presidential election? Here are a few tests:

  1. You wake up several times at night with thoughts like: “NO!!!!”, or “Wonder who he’s groping now?”
  2.  You check news reports every few minutes for the latest on Trump Twitter storms and WikiLeaks releases.
  3. You have invested your life savings in one of the campaigns.
  4. You receive instant notices about any changes in Nate Silver’s election predictions.
  5. You have moved to Canada.
  6. You hyperventilate at the sight or mention of anything orange.
  7. Your friends are suggesting counseling.
  8. Rudy Giuliani is starting to make sense.
  9. Rudy Giuliani looks increasingly simian.
  10. You fondly remember the good old days of 2008 when Sarah Palin was the loose screw.

If five or more of these apply to you, then you are among the 52 percent of American adults suffering from “election stress.” Last week, the American Psychological Association (“APA”) released a study finding that 52 percent of Americans 18+reported the election is a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

I thought that any stress primarily was people worrying about the Donald, but not so. According to an APA spokesperson, “We’re seeing that it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican . . .” Roughly equal numbers of those registered as Democrats (55 percent) or Republicans (59 percent) said the election is a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.” The worry also cuts across generational and gender lines.

The APA offered some suggestions to help sufferers manage stress:

  1. If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims from the candidates is causing the stress, limit your media consumption.
  2. Avoid getting into discussions about the election if they have the potential to escalate to conflict.
  3. Stress and anxiety about what might happen is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group.
  4. Know that whatever happens on Nov. 8, life will go on. Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.
  5. Vote. In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter.

In addition to these, I have turned to television and movie comedies—and discovered “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and rediscovered the old Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther movies– and there are 22 more days to go for more laughs.

Good luck!

The APA study can be found here.

Change—and grace—show themselves in unexpected ways. The “Trump video” is well-known, and by now eight women have come forward to give the lie to Trump’s claim that “he never did anything wrong, it [the tape] was just locker room talk.” Some men acknowledged that they did, indeed, talk like that and many of Trump’s supporters said, in essence, that such talk was expected and to be accepted.

In other words, Trump and those who approve of “locker room” talk such as his agree that is acceptable: to objectify and minimize women; “rate” them on their “looks;” openly leer as they approach; and, discuss various methods of sexual assault and battery that they would like to commit upon them. Worse, most heterosexual men, including me, have been guilty of such sexism to one degree or another. That does not excuse it. That does not make it right.

It is something that we men need to struggle to end. That is where change and grace comes in. Perhaps the tape and subsequent allegations made against Trump will serve to bring about much needed change and raise the level of the familial, social and cultural relationships between men and women in our society.

An article in yesterday’s New York Times suggests that this week’s events might give women a new way of seeing their own experiences with sexual assault and male sexism going forward. You can find the article here.