Election stress disorder: Did you know you might have it?
In today’s polarized, hate-flinging, hand-wringing, Internet-pounding U.S. presidential election, passions are running high. Haven’t you been tempted to . . .
- shut down
- feel angry or hopeless or wonder if the America you know is coming to an end — whichever candidate gets your vote?
For example, Leila put on Facebook this — “After tomorrow, hopefully the attacks on my character will end. I’ve just been told that because I support Trump, God won’t let me into heaven.”
The term election stress disorder describes the worry-anxiety-fear that beleagers voters every four years. It was coined by a psychologist who described the phenomenon that plagues many Americans this Election Day.
How Common Is Election Stress?
Indeed, America is afraid.
American Psychological Association researchers surveyed 3,500 adults in August and found that 55% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans said the election is a “very significant” or “somewhat significant” source of stress. Those who use social media are more likely than those who don’t to say the election is a source of stress (54% versus 45%, respectively).
America is heavy with anxiety and distrustful of the other side. Friends are unfriending Facebook friends. Marriages are being tested. Many Americans won’t speak the name “Hillary” or “Trump” fearing name-calling and rejection.
So how pervasive is your election stress?
In Anxious for Nothing by John MacArthur, he describes anxiety, at its core, “an appropriate response in light of the circumstances–very different from the cares and concerns in life that cause people to attend to business in a responsible way.”
In other words, election stress describes worry-anxiety-fear.
Telltale Signs of Election Stress
The signs of election stress include heart palpitations, sweaty palms, loss of appetite, insomnia, and a doomed feeling.
Physically, it is felt reaction to a perceived danger. When you fear danger, your body automatically pumps out numerous hormones including adrenaline. Once in your bloodstream, your pupils dilate, your muscles tense, and your heartbeat and breathing quicken.
Did you know election stress affects your thoughts too?
Call it worry. It is the wrong way to handle election stress or any stress. Worry is dwelling negatively on a trouble. It is ruminating on the worst.
All this worry leads to headaches, digestive pain, light-headedness, tingling in your extremities, even chest pain brought on by stress. (Please note, if you suspect a heart attack or other medical emergency, call 911 immediately.)
Your No-Worry Solution
Here are three ways to get rid of election stress and learn to be content.
First, consider what the Bible says about anxiety and follow through.
Jesus spoke “Do not be anxious” and “Fear not” many times. (See Mathew 6:25, 31, 34.) The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:6,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
TAKE-AWAY: When you catch yourself worrying, remind yourself that Jesus says to NOT worry and replace your worry thinking with a biblical truth that God is in control and cares for you.
Casting all of your care upon him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Then, do the next thing that God holds you responsible for doing — finishing a report, writing an email, making dinner, picking up the kids from swim class.
Second, guard your heart and your mind.
Social media, news shows, and talk around the family table buzz over who’s up, who’s down, and the latest conspiracy theory.
Rather than worrying about today and tomorrow, why not fix your eyes on Jesus? Read the promises in Romans 8:35-39, which begin:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
TAKE-AWAY: Nothing can separate you from Christ’s love. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Think about this when election stress tempts you to worrry.
Third, choose the right perspective.
Earth isn’t your home. This election is important but pales in comparison with the Most Important. That is, Jesus Christ.
Rick Thomas compares your temporary home on earth to a vacation. He spells it out like this:
- I go on a vacation for a short period of time.
- I act responsibly while I’m on vacation.
- I’m fully aware our vacation location is not our home.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 (ESV)
You and I long for our permanent home: heaven. We are citizens of heaven!
TAKE-AWAY: Remember your true home on Election Day.
May I pray for us?
By the power of the Holy Spirit, quiet our hearts as we fix our eyes on Jesus. You command us not to be anxious about food, clothing, or anything else including who will sit in the oval office after this election. Keep us aware that you are on heaven’s throne and completely in charge.
You are not stressed over this election, so why should we? May we praise you today and always and be filled with your peace. May we respect those in authority as we seek to live a life that honors you. Amen.