A prescription for high stress this election

November 7, 2016

Feeling anxious and stressed about this election? You’re not alone. And as it turns out, there’s a name for what many of us are experiencing- it’s called “election stress disorder”.

Essentially, the stress and anxiety many Americans are harboring about the election outcome and the country’s future is taking a toll. Experts at the University of Minnesota say anyone who has a stake in the election experiences this stress; the more you have in stake the more worried you are. Then, there are those who tend to see everyone who is not on their side as an enemy or a threat. Those are the ones that experience the most emotional burden.

Mustasfa al’Absi, PhD, is a professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School with an expertise in stress and addictive behaviors, and is the director of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratories in Duluth and in Minneapolis. He says if you are experiencing stress from this campaign and election cycle, you need to stay focused.

Ignored, experts say stress can lead to trouble sleeping, body aches, issues at school or work and fatigue. Anxiety can also be the cause of headaches, difficulty concentrating, lack of appetite, panic attacks and can cause strain in relationships.

“Think of your family, your school, your kids, your work place, your colleagues, etc. and use those to guide your vote. That should help you channel your stress into action,” advises al’Absi.

Children, especially, should be at the forefront of our minds, not just to help center ourselves, al’Absi says, but in how we conduct ourselves.

“One of the saddest things about this election cycle is the amount of nastiness and outright hostility. There’s little here to present to the youth as a model for democratic discourse.”

al’Absi points out that just because the end is in sight for campaign cycle, doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods as far as stress and anxiety is concerned – only one candidate can win, after all. Therefore, he says, we must look to ourselves to take control, and not let the stress and anxiety control us.

“Take a deep breath,” al’Absi urges. “These types of stressors should make us more resilient and effective as citizens. So we should embrace this, but engage! Vote! That is my prescription.”