Post-Election Stress Reaction
How are you handling today’s politics? Whether you lean to the left and you feel that little vein in your forehead start to throb every time you see a news story about another white house decision, or you lean more to the right and feel like you are constantly on the defensive about our 45th president, it’s been shown the time since November 2016 is peaking when it comes to ordinary people dealing with the stress of the election. While some tried labeling it “Post-election Stress Disorder,” it is more accurately a stress reaction. We feel stressed when we feel like we have lost control of a situation, and for some, the results of the November election have them either feeling helpless in the wake of the results and ongoing changes which greet them daily, or they can’t understand the reactions of others to these changes and feel attacked. In fact, psychologists are reporting more and more sessions being spent listening to political rants by their patients - both to the left and to the right. While those in therapy are getting the help they need, what about the folks that do not have a professional helping them deal with their frustrations and stress? The bottom line is they are in danger of cardiac strain. There has been no conclusive evidence excess stress leads directly to heart disease, but it can cause people to engage in activities which have definitively been shown to directly affect the heart. Excessive drinking, smoking, and overeating to “manage” stress leads to obvious strains on the body in general, and the heart secondarily by raising blood pressure which can damage arteries. While PESR is a problem for some, it should be noted this disorder is nowhere near the scale or severity of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), suffered by ex-military personnel and those who have been through a devastating event in their life. PESR is stress along the lines of having a really bad day, while PTSD is a life-changing condition for which professional help should always be sought. So let’s say you are having some PESR. What are some of the ways you can dial down the drama which may be triggering bad habits? 1) Experts say the first step is to limit your time on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter where the constant flow of information is always changing and one attention-grabbing headline after another fills your feeds. You can feel your blood pressure rise as you read through all the articles, comments, replies to comments, and watch videos which make you want to reach for that drink, cigarette, or food. 2) Take care of yourself by sticking to your regular diet and exercise plans. 3) Regain some of that feeling of control. If you feel strongly about something, find ways to make your voice heard by writing to your elected officials, marching in support or protest, organizing an event or just talking with your friends about your feelings. All of these can go a long way toward easing the physical stress your body feels when your mind starts to race. The one thing to remember is we cannot control anyone else’s actions or words. The only thing we can control is how we react to them.