(WEHT) – Are you feeling more stressed as Election Day gets closer? If so, you’re not alone. Doctors call it “election stress.” It’s a real thing and can cause some real harm to you, mentally and physically.
Eyewitness News Brandon Bartlett spoke with Dr. Jason West, a doctor at the West Clinic in Idaho and a best selling author about how you can survive the next 6 weeks.
BRANDON: Dr. West. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. 2020 has thrown a lot at us as if the coronavirus pandemic isn’t enough to stress us out there is also a presidential election this year. And that’s causing a lot of people to have even more stress. Are you seeing that this so called election stress is a real thing?
Dr Jason West: Well, I think it is a huge factor in throwing people off balance or off kilter. You know, stress isn’t a disease, it just makes every disease worse. And particularly went away. I want our immune systems to be as healthy as possible stress lowers that response. And so I’m telling people look, you want to have a stress outlet and you want to recognize the things that you can impact and control and the things that you can’t and you got to let the things that you can’t you gotta let them go.
BRANDON: Well, what are the signs or symptoms that we are experiencing this election stress?
Dr Jason West: Well, yeah, increased skin rashes, you have headaches, you have decreased immune susceptibility, more, you know, flus coughs, colds and stuff that that are bothering people, things that used to not bother people are agitating them because our emotions are right here on the surface. And one more thing pushes us over. I mean, the minute you talk about politics in my area, people seem to get agitated pretty easily.
BRANDON: Yeah, a lot of people already have a lot of stress in their lives for different reasons right now. Now, this stress on top of that, how do we cope with it?
Dr Jason West: Well, it’s so important to have a stress outlet, something that centers you whether it’s going on a walk, listening to musical instrument, playing a musical Institute, journaling, meditation, prayer, meaningful conversations, like you need to get that on your schedule and treat it like an appointment. If someone says, Hey, I need to do something, you’re like, well, this is the time for me to get de stressed. It’s such an important effect on everything, but particularly our immune systems that this time.
BRANDON: Yeah, and if we don’t find ways to cope with the stress, what does all that stress do to our bodies? Can it cause damage?
Dr Jason West: Well, it’s kind of like when the oil light comes on your car and you’re driving, you’re looking at it, you know that something’s gonna happen if you don’t do Do some maintenance. And that’s when people are saying, look, you know, my emotions are right here on the edge, I’m gonna bow blow over, that’s when it’s time to have a stress outlet. It’ll make everything your life better.
BRANDON: Can that stress also lead to depression?
Dr Jason West: depression, anxiety, cyclic mood disorders, it’s gonna cause irritation with arthritis, it’s gonna make your stomach worse, your hormones worse, if you can get balanced and centered, everything’s gonna get better. And it’s the best protection against the virus that’s floating around.
BRANDON: Yeah, and many people are very vocal about their political views on social media right now, especially right now it seems nonstop. And that’s also leading some people to get into arguments on social media. Do you think a lot of the stress that some people are experiencing right now comes from being on social media?
Dr Jason West: Well, people call me all the time, the last week, Dr. West, what’s the most important thing to take, and I know that they’re wanting me to say, Hey, take vitamin C, get enough water, get vitamin A good vitamin d3. And I jokingly tell them, You should take a break from social media, because we’re constantly bombarded with things that we can’t control. It’s upsetting our nervous system, it releases all these hormones, it down regulates our immune system, if you want to be healthy, just get centered and get so that things that you can’t control aren’t agitating your system.
BRANDON: Now take a digital timeout. Well, one recent study said that the more we overthink the future, the more anxious we’re going to get, the more anxious we get, the more less productive we are. And the more problems that creates in our lives, does anxiety really have that much power over our everyday lives?
Dr Jason West: It is so incredibly powerful. And if you think what’s happening, we have all of these neurotransmitters, these it’s nerve impulses that are coming into our nervous system. When we’re in an even keel or a healthy state, our body filters, the good stuff that’s coming in. And it kind of blocks the bad stuff coming in depression is when you don’t get enough impulses in anxiety is when you get too many. And when you’re an anxious state, every little thing is firing off your nervous system and you’re in a constant state of fight or flight response. And it’s not healthy to be that keyed up all the time.
BRANDON: Well, the election coverage, the political ads, and all the political talk on Facebook is not going to stop. In fact, there’s going to be a lot more of it in the coming days. So bottom line, how do we survive the next few weeks?
Dr Jason West: Well, I think what the best thing to do is to recognize that there are some things that we control and some things that we don’t control. And so many people get worked up and they allow other people to put problems on their plate, we allow the media to put pop problems on our plate social media to put problems on our plate, and it doesn’t benefit or service at all. So what I tell people is yes, it’s nice to be aware, but also recognize that there’s things that you can impact and things you can’t and just because you’re aware of it doesn’t mean that you have to put it into a state of high stress or anxiety.
BRANDON: Some very good tips Dr. West as always good talking to you. And thanks for joining us tonight.
Dr Jason West: You’re welcome to stay safe and stay healthy.
(This story was originally published on September 21, 2020)