Election Stress Syndrome
This election is proving to be one of the most contentious in modern history. Some people fear our democracy itself is at stake.
In a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, half of the people (52%) said the election “is a very or somewhat significant” source of stress in their lives. This anxiety is showing up on both sides of the aisle, with 59% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats saying the election is stressful to them.
Luckily there’s an antidote to this stress; we can use gratitude as a balm. Here are three reasons we can feel grateful about this election, even though it feels as though the country – collectively – is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
- Our 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech. This allows the combustible sparring to play out — women speaking up, the media chronicling stories, the spouting of rebuttals, the threatening of lawsuits, the bantering email condemnation – all of it. Democracy is noisy as a rule, but I prefer the pandemonium of free speech to governments that silence their citizens. A woman I know who lived in Romania before the revolution in 1989 gave me a peek of what Communist rule was like. She told me she could never speak freely and always had to monitor her thoughts. She said no one could make copies of anything or own a typewriter, because the Communist state was determined to prevent any free-flowing ideas. We Americans could not fathom the muzzle of Communism. In light of this, we can be grateful for free speech, even the maelstrom of it.
- Our Constitution continues to evolve and improve. It encourages us to actively fight for what we deem as right. African Americans couldn’t vote before the 15th Amendment was ratified. Before the 19th Amendment was approved, women couldn’t vote. If we keep in mind that democracy is an evolving government, we can be grateful that it’s at its best when we stay engaged and give it our best fight.
- We have a history of enduring and overcoming strife. We’ve had struggles as divisive as slavery and The Civil War. In more recent times, we’ve overcome Watergate and a presidential recount. We can be grateful that in America the changing of the guard has never met with a coup d’état.
In the weeks ahead, if you find yourself suffering from Election Stress Syndrome, reach for gratitude as your balm.