Let me add a disclaimer here: This one is going to be difficult, because I’d like to approach the subject below as a legitimate mental health issue, not a political one.
I’ve written about this before, but a new Politico article, along with some of the data in it, has pushed this topic back to the surface.
From the article:
The American Psychiatric Association in a May survey found that 39 percent of people said their anxiety level had risen over the previous year—and 56 percent were either “extremely anxious” or “somewhat anxious about “the impact of politics on daily life.” A 2017 study found two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
All of this has led to the creation of – and I can’t believe I’m typing these words – “Trump Anxiety Disorder.” According to Dr. Jennifer Panning, that disorder is defined by, “increased worry, obsessive thought patterns, muscle tension and obsessive preoccupation with the news.”
Additional research has shown that the election resulted in people having a more difficult time having “open and honest” conversations and damaged relationships.
On a personal level, this jives with not only my experience, but conversations I’ve had with others. Years ago, I remember speaking with my therapist about how I was very stressed by the state of world affairs, and I commented that I knew how ridiculous that sounded. He looked at me as if I had three heads. “That’s not ridiculous at all. Almost all of my patients have said that.”
I was so, so relieved. And as I have relayed this story to others, they are relieved as well – it’s not just them! At all!
So, what is there to do about this? Yeah, on that one, I have very little. Unplugging and setting boundaries is important, but the best way I have been able to keep my focus in the age of Trump is this: Concentrate on where you can make a difference. Focusing on the non-stop news cycle (CNN/MSNBC/FoxNews are the worst things on the planet) will drive you nuts, no matter who you are. Concentrate on the areas where you can make a positive difference, and go from there.
That’s the best advice I can give. If you have anything better, please leave it in the comments below!