A recent study published in PLOS One reports the results of a survey designed to measure the many personal costs of political engagement.
The results are sobering, to say the least:
- 38% say politics has caused them to be stressed
- 26.4% say they have become depressed when a preferred candidate lost.
- 18.3% say they’ve lost sleep because of politics.
- 11.5% say politics has adversely affected their physical health.
- 31.8% say that exposure to media outlets promoting views contrary to theirs can drive them crazy
- 29.3% have lost their temper as a result of politics
- 26.5% say politics has led them to hate some people
- 23.3% have seriously considered moving because of politics
- 15.3% have secretly wished bad things on those who disagree with the politically
- 11% have become annoyed when others are critical of their political views
- 22.1% care too much about who wins and loses in politics
- 13.1% have vowed to spend less time on politics but then failed to follow through
- 12.4% have spent more time on political web sites than they they felt they should
Social and Lifestyle Health
- 20% say differences in views have damaged a valued friendship
- 8% say differences in views have caused problems at work
Kevin Smith, lead author of the study and chair of the political science department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, notes in a Wall Street Journal article that “the major takeaway from this is that if our numbers are really anywhere in the ballpark, there are tens of millions of Americans who see politics as exacting a toll on their social, psychological, emotional and even physical health.”
Dr. Smith also notes that these effects seem to be more pronounced for those who are younger, on the political left, and interested and engaged in politics.
For many people, the political climate exacerbates existing conditions.
- one person with a habit of grinding her teeth says the habit has recently kicked into high gear, losing two more teeth from grinding too much and having to get implants
- another person had her first flare-up of MS in nearly 10 years after the 2016 election
- an Iowa man has asked for a higher dosage of his anxiety medication
As for me, politics led me to my first, and only, blocking of someone on Facebook.
I have let my political beliefs be known on this blog before (a bleeding heart liberal), but I purposely try to avoid writing about it too much.
I don’t mind talking about politics with people who are of the same mindset as me, but I try to avoid talking about it with friends who view things differently since I don’t want politics to get in the way of the friendship.
I’ve also read more news stories that are politically oriented in the past couple of years, mainly because it seems like there’s something going on all the time politically.
I’d much prefer going back to a time when politics were rarely discussed, political fighting wasn’t always in the news, and people got along more easily.
Well, it’s time to wrap this up; I’ve got to check what the latest news is on the impeachment inquiry…
*image from the Houston Chronicle