Both Democrats and Republicans are in distress thinking of politics in the United States and the future of the country, according to a new survey.
The American Psychological Association’s annual “Stress in America: Coping with Change” reflected a first in their decade-old poll: a higher level of anxiety over political matters and where the country is heading to.
Top Stressors Among Americans
“People are saying they’re more stressed now than they have been in quite some time,” revealed Lynn Bufka, APA executive director for practice, research, and policy, as reported by USA Today.
The nation’s economy as well as work and money stress topped the list of stressors in the survey conducted by Harris Poll yet again, but this time 57 percent of those polled deemed the political climate a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” stress source. Almost half or 49 percent said the same of electoral outcomes.
Seventy-two percent of Democrats said the outcome of the recent elections was a significant stressor, while 59 percent of Republicans considered the nation’s future a substantial source of stress.
According to Bufka, stress and anxiety can take the form of different symptoms, including headaches, stomach aches, feelings of nervousness and anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and some irritability. These can add up eventually and affect one’s health in the long term, Bufka warned.
In its survey August last year, the APA found that 71 percent reported a physical or emotional stress symptom for at least a day that month. In this new poll, the number climbed to 80 percent, the subjects citing things like tension headache and being overwhelmed or depressed.
Millennials, minorities, those with a college education, and people living in urban locations had higher stress levels when it came to the election — an unsurprising finding given these groups tend to lean toward the political left.
Relax: Here's How To Ease Stress
How do you best address stress that comes from news in the political arena? Unlink yourself from the wave of negative news, advised Vaile Wright, psychologist and APA team member. Consuming too much of these, she said can lead to more harm than good.
“[W]hile it’s really important to stay informed right now, there’s a point where you have to know your limits; there’s a saturation point where there isn’t new information,” she said in a Washington Post report.
Take care of yourself first, Wright added.
WebMD provides these relaxation techniques to zap stress:
• Meditate. Spend a few minutes a day meditating, which could alter the brain’s neural pathways and make one more resilient to stress.
• Breathe deeply. During a five-minute break, focus on your breathing while you sit up straight, eyes closed and your hand on your belly. Inhale slowly through the nose and feel the breath start in the abdomen and work its way to the top of the head. Reverse the process during exhalation through the mouth.
• Be present. Heighten your awareness: take five minutes to notice the air on your face while walking, the feel of feet hitting the ground, and the taste and texture of each bite of food.
• Reach out. Talk to your social network, preferably face to face or on the phone. Remember, though, that it might help to veer away from any political chitchat in the meantime!
• Tune in to your body. Scan your body mentally to sense how stress burdens it. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Notice how the body feels starting at the toes and working your way up to the scalp.