COLORADO SPRINGS — There are terms going around like Election Stress Disorder, and similarly Political Stress Disorder. Whatever way you categorize it, the political climate is contributing to anxiety and stress. "I think we can just say it's been a time of adversity and without needing a diagnosis it takes a toll on people," said Hazelden Betty Ford, Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Lee.
The political climate is compounded by the pressures of the pandemic. "It's sort of an unprecedented time as far as the number of stressors that people are facing," said UCCS National Institute for Human Resiliency, Director of Research, Heather Littleton PhD.
"People are so focused on being self-righteous and having the right thoughts and having read the right science and they've lost that kind of humility," said Lee. The unbending need to be right can be fed by cable news channels and social media. Those information outlets can also support attitudes that may or may not be right. "There's something called emotional reasoning,” said Littleton, “So, if we feel a certain way about something, we sort of convince ourselves it must be true."
The constant attitude of confrontation feeds stress. "We've taken a hit on how we connect with people and how we empathize, and it's certainly gotten worse with all the political dialogue and stress we've been under as a country," said Lee.
The experts say disagreement is part of life, but have the humility to allow others to see things differently. "Learning to not take ourselves so seriously,” said Lee, “Learning how to see each other as the same and not different and reaching for the commonalities."
Limit time on social media. 24 hours news does not require anyone 24 hour attention. "We can try to control or own worries and anxieties or anger or stress," said Littleton. She also suggests finding stress relievers that can happen during pandemic restrictions, like getting out for a walk or run.