The Stress Behind the Orange Curtain

Donald Trump

It’s been two hundred days since the orange curtain dropped over our nation and we’ve handled more than we asked for. The amount of anxiety and stress Americans have suffered since the November 2016 U.S. presidential election might feel like political nervousness, but as the days get darker, the future of our country feels ill-fated, causing our anxiety to worsen. Anxiety is a form of constant physical and mental stress that can lead to various health complications such as chronic pain, hypertension, cancer, and more. Therefore, all forms of anxiety are alarming no matter what the cause. 

The American Psychological Association reported that 57 percent of Americans indicated the current political climate has “very” or “somewhat” significantly contributed to their levels of day-to-day stress, while 50 percent reported the election results were the leading cause of their stress. In April, the online healthcare team CareDash found more than 60 percent of Americans reported feeling anxiousness, while 43 percent of Donald Trump voters are feeling “at least somewhat anxious.” Are we surprised? 

Every day, Trump finds a new way to degrade the office of the president of the United States. His denigration of women—we heard him grab them by the “p----” and call them “fat pigs”—spoke volumes. His ridiculous environmental policies set us back as other countries move forward. Trump’s ongoing Russia scandal, as he fired FBI director James Comey, unfolds curiosity page after page. Trump’s discrimination against minority and ethnic groups—Latinos, Muslims, blacks, immigrants, and LGBTQ—was validated with his immigration policy and promises to build a wall, Muslim Ban, and most recently, the banning of transgender soldiers from serving in the military. Trump has embarrassed us at international conferences, isolating America from the rest of the world, not to mention the endless impulsive Twitter rants. Most recently, he’s placed the country in a panic over nuclear war with North Korea and managed to sound like a Nazi sympathizer after faulting the left for the rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Why wouldn't Americans have a certain amount of anxiety?

According to Dr. Suzanne Lachmann, a writer for Psychology Today, 60,000 psychologists signed a petition that said Trump has a “serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.” As if life wasn’t hard enough, now we have to worry about the leader of the free world being mentally unfit and possibly starting a war through his sticky Twitter fingers.

 TOI editors at The Times of India

TOI editors at The Times of India

It's a hard knock life” for the average American. They struggle with deadlines at work, sick family members, raising children, family drama, various debts, and trying to get by day to day. Meanwhile, since Trump has taken office in January, he’s only divided the nation. No wonder more than 60 percent of Americans feel anxious. 

In June, BuzzFeed reviewed 50 cases of bullying in 26 states. All incidents across the country consisted of children using President Trump’s rhetoric to bully religious and ethnic minorities at school. In one instance, a middle schooler pleaded with his mother to keep his bullying incident a secret because he didn’t want to deal with the social consequences.

In a Huffington Post article by Kyle Redford, a fifth-grade teacher at Marin County Day school, wrote that she was “stunned by the deep levels of anxiety among her students.” Redford was surprised at the level of knowledge her fifth graders had about everything from Trump’s Russia scandal to the controversial crouch grabbing incident. These are levels of anxiety of stress parents and teachers face every day as they send their children to school. 

All forms of anxiety are alarming and we should not turn the blind eye as chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death. The New York Times concluded that at the beginning of the election, therapists were calling this stress “election anxiety” and “Trump anxiety,” while other sources called the effects “the orange curtain,” better known as post-election stress disorder. So, how do you treat and prevent the “orange anxiety”?

According to Dr. Steven Stosny, the founder of CompassionPower, there are several important steps to take:

  1. Empower self: Stand by your beliefs. Stress and anxiety increase as we feel powerless.
  2. Connect: Connect with friends and family by meeting with them. Stay away from text messages, e-mail, or social media. Try setting up a picnic or going for a walk. 
  3. Appreciate your ability to cope: We tend to forget our levels of resilience and our ability to deal with hard times. Always remember your ability to rise above. 
  4. Get Physical: Physical activity can be just as effective as medicine. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
  5. Write: Write down your nervous or negative thoughts. Writing can help slow you down. Assign probability and plan for each of your worries. Use a scale of 1-10, ten being the most likely to happen. Plan how you would handle each of your anxieties. Some of your anxieties might even fade away. 
  6. Retain hope: All growth follows struggle and stress.

It is essential to stay informative during these tremulous times, but it is also imperative to take time off from social media. Ask your family to turn their phones off during dinner time. Encourage yourself to disconnect from all social media 30 minutes before bedtime and stay away from all social media 30 minutes after waking up.  

According to Huffington Post’s Redford, parents should engage in conversation with their children and find ways to empower them through action. Families should take part in marches since it brings student and parents a sense of hope and relief. Furthermore, parents should always investigate and find out what is concerning their children in order to channel their children’s stress. Try writing letters to members of Congress with your children to help them feel empowered. Also, books with powerful messages can be helpful, such as: I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton, and A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara are great educational tools.