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Friday, March 03, 2017

Stress: Politically Induced Or Not

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

Unless you live in some remote, non-wifi location, it is not possible to get away from the general feeling of anxiety, worry and fear not only in our country but also in the world. The LGBTQ community, as well as those who are related to it, and many others to be sure, is even more affected by the recent developments in this regard.

We all deal with stress in our lives. Some of us accomplish that task better than others even though we have the benefit of a huge number of resources to help us with it. A certain level of stress is motivating. It gets us to act, to do things we have to do and to prepare for life. But once you exceed that level, not only does the body start to complain physiologically (insomnia, headaches, stomach problems), but also the mind begins to behave in unhealthy ways (worry, irritability, anxiety, tension).

Between 2006 and 2016, surveys by the American Psychological Association show decreasing levels of stress associated with money, work, and the economy in the U.S. However, in early January 2017, that trend reverses itself, with stress over the U.S. presidential election. Adults who used social media were more likely than adults who did not use social media to say the election was a very or somewhat significant source of stress (54 percent vs. 45 percent, respectively). If you are interested in the details of these surveys, here is the link: Apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2016/coping-with-change.pdf

Chronic stress, lack of social support, and loneliness create major obstacles to a healthy body and mind. This point allows me to segue into the significance of relationships in our lives. Especially if you are the member of a minority group, strong and close ties to family, friends and the community take on greater importance. Here are some tips to counter the negative effects of what is going on around us:

• First and foremost, take care of your body and mind. Exercise, listen to soothing music, eat healthy, and get enough sleep.

• Take a break from social media. Determine how much is informative and how much is overwhelming.

• Connect with your social support system. Spend time with friends and family without getting into political discussions.

• Look for the positive, the constructive and the similarity, rather than than the negative and the destructive.

Take some time to meditate (or pray if that is your preference). Empty your mind of thoughts and focus on the present.

If your daily routine is being upset by your stress level, acknowledge that it may be time to consult with a mental health professional who can help you form an action plan to deal with the issues that interfere with your well being.

Send comments/questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or on Twitter @DrJananB.

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