Practicing psychologists and professors of psychology were recently interviewed to explore their experience with any increase in client anxiety around the complexity and intensity our current political environment has perhaps introduced into our lives, conversations — and for some, our dreams and nightmares!
    I was not involved in the interviews, but I have read some of the responses.  Basically, people in therapy are expressing high levels of anxiety regarding the tension seen at rallies, on TV coverage of the upcoming election — and in difficult conversations with friends, families, co-workers. The reports are consistent with what I find in my therapy practice: that most if not all clients express concern and anxiety when thinking, talking, reflecting on the tone of the current campaign.  The “climate” of unrest, anger, disappointment, and for many the loss of income and of jobs; the rising debt for everything from day to day living to getting an education… is “in the air” even for those who don’t experience it directly.
    Anger is too easily expressed in almost every environment — directly or indirectly — while driving, waiting in line, simply being disappointed in a meeting, in a conversation — tempers flare far more easily.  Worry is amplified over things from the most simple challenge to the most complex….In other words, the things most of us might ordinarily figure out how to handle appear to bother us or those around us more, leading to more unresolved conflict — angry confrontations, conversations ending badly, even incidents of acting out at the athletic events of young children.
    The individuals who are in therapy have an outlet…a safe place to express the rising level of anxiety and or the anger they personally experience or witness.  The individuals in therapy give us a potential window into the world of others….So the question is:
    — How are YOU feeling? How are you doing?
    –What kind of healthy outlet do you have?
    –Who can you talk to — honestly — about your feelings?
    –How do you manage anger, anxiety, general frustration?
    It does help to pause and reflect, daily, on these questions.
    And finally some tips to help with anxiety! First, you can go to the list of my blogs on managing stress, anxiety, depression — meanwhile try these basic ideas to get started….
    –do the 4, 7, 8 breathing technique — Inhale to count of 4; hold breath to count of 7; exhale to count of 8.  Repeat 4 times. Then 4 more times.
    –close your eyes and count your breaths — 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale…then 3, 4, etc up to 25. See if you can maintain your focus. If you can, count to 50.
    –sit or lie down and quietly do a mental body scan. Start with your feet and work your way through your body to the top of your head. Breathe normally. Look for points of stress and try to simply breathe and relax
    –turn off televisions and all other devices for the first hour you get up and again for an hour before you go to sleep
    And for regular readers, you know meditation for 20 to 30 minutes can work wonders.  The main thing is to see if you can find ways to calm yourself. And as always, if you are struggling, please ask for help. You deserve it.
    AND, finally, express yourself by VOTING!