Opinion Columns & Blogs

Election made a lot of people sick


Nov. 9 – the day after Election Day – has become America’s favorite day of the year.

We all know why. This seemingly never-ending election cycle stressed us to the point that our mental health was being compromised. And we couldn’t wait for it to be over.

It even had a name: Election Anxiety Disorder, or EAD.

According to an online poll conducted last month for the American Psychological Association (APA), daily media coverage of this presidential election, one of the nastiest in recent history, stressed out 52 percent of American adults either “very much” or “somewhat significantly.”

A seemingly constant loop of political campaign reporting on 24-hour cable news channels was enough to get your blood boiling. But friends, associates and “trolls” hitting you up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at all hours of the day and night took things to another level.

Our political culture not only affected our health, but damaged our relationships. Roughly 60 percent of Americans told the Pew Research Center they were sick and tired of the election – and that was back in July. Many voters said they lack respect for our country’s democratic institutions and one another.

What used to be benign social gatherings, like informal dinner parties and family picnics, became political and cultural war zones.

On thing everyone agreed on, however: Nov. 9 couldn’t get here fast enough.

Small wonder. This election cycle has been going on for nearly two years. The cable news channels basically became 24-hour election networks.

The American electorate was just plain tired behind a barrage of TV campaign ads, mailers stuffed in their mailboxes, robocalls every evening and the candidates’ own daily shenanigans.

Therapists increasingly treated patients for election-related anxiety. And the APA, in the wake of its survey, produced coping tips for Americans who suffered from election stress.

For example, psychologists suggested limiting your media consumption by turning off the newsfeed or taking a digital break. “Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy,” the group recommended.

Also, it suggested not getting into discussions about the election if there were even a hint that it could turn into a fight. “Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the election with friends, family members or coworkers,” the APA said.

But here’s the most important thing to remember: perspective. No matter if your candidate won or lost on Nov. 8, life goes on.

As imperfect as it is, we still live in the greatest democracy on the planet. A pillar of that democracy is a political system and three branches of government that mean we can expect a significant degree of stability amid an immediate and peaceful transition of power.

“Avoid catastrophizing,” the APA suggested, “and maintain a balanced perspective.”

Rick Christie writes for The Palm Beach Post.