Today, Elizabeth’s Creativity Challenge asks the question, among others, about what would cause relief for the current distress in our fellow citizens given the current situation in the world. To provide my take on that question, I’m going to narrow the question to the United States.
The American Psychological Association actually coined a term for the stress many of us felt during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election — election stress disorder. The APA cited people who were terribly distressed after each debate and then more than distressed after the election and who are having trouble recovering from that. First, a disclaimer. I personally believe we have reason to be distressed. But, we can’t have an entire country walking around unable to function for however long Donald Trump is in office. We have to be productive for ourselves and our country. That said, here is the APA’s prescription for at least some relief.
None of us in the U.S. have ever witnessed anything like the Republican primary debates nor the debates between President-elect Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. My highest stress moment (and there were a lot of them) was watching Trump stalk around on the stage (Debate 2) right behind Clinton but in view of the camera looking very predatory. Perhaps it didn’t affect men as much as women. It affected me a lot. I knew then that he should not be President. There were various high stress moments for all of us who were not Trump supporters.
What do we do for election stress disorder relief? First, the APA asks us to consider what actually happens in our brains to cause such stress. The primitive parts of our brain are associated with safety, security, and other factors cave men and women had to worry about. Those are the parts of the brain that came to life when I saw Trump stalking Clinton on stage, obviously to intimidate her. Other things might have caused your primitives to spring into action.
Other parts of the brain react with empathy, compassion, and more adult emotions than the primitive emotions. Some of us have been able to access these emotions regarding the political situation in the U.S., some haven’t. The APA found that a full 52% of the U.S. population is suffering from election stress disorder, including both men and women.
What do we do to find some relief? The same things we do to find relief for anything that stresses us. Turn off cable news! Now! You can’t do anything at all about what’s happening. Practice relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, for example. Get some exercise. Aerobics helps me more than anything because it burns off that stress. Go about your work and your life. Read. Preferably fiction. Something that will take your mind to another place and time. See your friends and don’t let politics get in your way. Who cares if they are Trump supporters? They are still your friends. Don’t talk politics with them.
These things are all we can do in the short run. There is one more thing. Run for political office. There aren’t enough young politicians out there and I’ve noticed a real scarcity of young politicians, particularly Democrats. If you don’t run, you can’t make a difference. If we saw young, dedicated politicians ready to run for office, it would be a relief for all of us. #amblogging #amwriting #writing #creativitychallenge #politics
*American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, Election Stress Disorder
Post in response to Creativity Challenge #38