Ever since the presidential election coalesced into the battle it has become, I’ve been amazed, appalled, stressed out, dismayed, and plain old terrified. But I didn’t realize just how much until I heard Michelle Obama speak about Trump’s now infamous “locker room talk” fiasco. It made me realize that we’re all under siege – like seriously, personally, terribly distressed – from left to right, blue to red, top to bottom. We’re suffering from PCSD – Presidential Campaign Stress Disorder.
I’m not going to dive into a political diatribe here, nor am I even going to discuss which side anyone should be on. I’ll save that for my personal life. What I will say is that we all are suffering terrible emotional stress beyond anything we’ve ever experienced in a presidential election before. We, as a nation, need group psychotherapy. So therefore, I declare this National Mental Therapy Week. Feel free to extend it for an additional 5 days.
Luckily, the American Psychological Association has stepped up to the plate. When they conducted their annual Stress In America Survey last August, they found that more than half of U.S. adults, regardless of party, felt very or somewhat stressed by the election. Lynn Bufka, the APA’s associate executive director for policy, made a good first suggestion: Set boundaries. And she suggests walking away from social media for periods of time, or skipping over provocative or aggravating posts that you see that might inspire anger or frustration. Don’t respond. Don’t engage. Don’t even finish reading them. Move away.
Interestingly, the two groups that reported the highest level of stress were those over 71 and the millennials. I have a theory about that: For those over 71 who grew up in the era when things were not said in public, especially on television, the level of TV-broadcast vitriol, especially coming out of the mouths of candidates for the highest position in America, has to be beyond shocking. And for millennials, well, they’re seeing the dividing line between anything-goes for entertainers and there’s-a-minimum-standard-of-decency for public servants being shattered. I mean, we’ve had our rogues before, but mostly they’ve been taken down by their bad acts. But now? People are cheering in mobs, and this isn’t funny, it’s for real. This is America now? Really? Holy s$*&!
For me, I’m in the Catskills virtually unplugged for 10 days, right up until the election. I suggest you find something to soothe yourself as well. Let’s put our belief in the positive and hope for the best.