Presidential Election Stress Disorder

The morning after the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, I got a long text message from a very good friend saying that she was extremely stressed about the debate and all the negative things being said in the press about President Obama’s performance.

This friend asked me to give her some encouraging, professional advice. I was a little stunned because I have never had anyone tell me that they were so stressed out about an election that they wanted professional advice to help relax.

Soon afterwards I had an older woman tell me that she couldn’t sleep the night after the debate because she was so stressed and she also watched the cable news channels incessantly.

This got me to start paying more attention to presidential election stress and noticed it was all around me.

At work, coworkers vented about their frustration either with the President or with Mitt Romney. At the barbershop, the car wash, at the grocery store… everywhere I went I seemed to over hear people stressing in one form or another about the upcoming election.

Some people are engrossed in the election almost every waken hour. They are glued to CNN, MSNBC, FOX, or whatever channel. When they aren’t watching television they are online either reading articles or engaged in back and forth bickering in cyberspace.

Even when they aren’t doing those things they are either talking about the election, or spending too much time thinking about it.

If this seems a little obsessive, that’s where presidential election stress goes from normal to presidential election stress disorder.

Even my mother told me that she was stressed about the election and of course her television seems to be stuck on the cable news channels as well. She’s had trouble sleeping because she is worried about the upcoming election and talks about it endlessly to whom ever will listen to her so I gave her the same advice I gave my friend.

1. Disconnect– sometimes we have to turn off the television and get off the internet where we are too easily bombarded by campaign ads, political arguing or other things that can trigger our presidential election stress.

This includes Facebook, Twitter and other social sites where it’s easy to get pulled into political debates. At the least, watch something funny, silly, or interesting that has nothing to do with the election, and the same goes for websites.

2. Get out of the house– exercise, go for a mindfulness walk and appreciate the moment of now. Look at flowers, breath in the air, close your eyes and listen to what’s around you, shutting out all other thoughts about the past or the future, only the present.

3. Focus on you- get back to doing things you enjoy doing such as reading, writing, drawing, knitting, whatever it is you enjoy doing that can take your mind off of the election.

This upcoming presidential election is extremely important, I agree. It makes since that so many people are personally vested in their party or candidate of choice. It’s okay to be passionate, but it’s not okay to be angry, stressed, or depressed over the election and if you are, it’s time to take care of your self and take a break.

Political Bullying: What Are We Modeling to Our Children?

As the political season heats up, I can’t help but to notice that the ads seem to get nastier and more personal, so much so that it takes me back to some of the countless meditations I’ve done with high school students and initially I couldn’t understand why, but then it hit me, these campaign ads are reminding me of bullying.

Just like a lot of the bullying that goes on around school campuses across the nation (and now across the internet via sites like Facebook and Twitter), these politicians are often attacking each others characters, credibility and other qualities.

Unlike the bullying I see on school campuses, this type of bullying is different, and yet similar. It’s different in that it is much more of a sophisticated type of bullying, but it’s similar in it’s purpose and even worse, it is bullying that is played out across the nation, on television screens several times a day for millions to see, often during the times our young and impressionable children are watching.

These kids may not care about either candidate, and they may not even realize what they are witnessing, yet they are being exposed, often several times a day,  to a form of bullying that they may subconsciously model, especially in situations where they want to make themselves look better than someone else, rather in their social circle, sports or even in running for high school level campaigns.

Two adults bullying each other may sound ridiculous, but that is exactly what politicians do all the time. John Mica, who won the Republican primary House District 7 acknowledged that during a brutal campaign, he was severely affected by the mean spirited ads and statements made not only about him, but his family and integrity.

Although many political analyst believe that negative campaigns are necessary as they tend to get more voters attention than positive campaigns (what does that say about our Nation), at the end of the day I am concerned about how much of that negativity and mean spirited attention truly affects us.

As the campaign season continues to play out and ads are likely to get even more cruel, don’t just turn a blind eye to your child sitting there as it interrupts their television show. You may want to change the channel, or better yet, use it as a teaching and bonding opportunity to discuss with your child anything from bullying, the state of the Nation, the economy, to your political views. After all, they are likely getting all that anyway from watching the campaign ads, just that the information they are getting is likely tainted and smeared in figure pointing and character bashing.