PNS Daily Newscast - June 17, 2019 

Trump once again floats the idea of being president beyond two terms. Also on the Monday rundown: A new national report ranks children's well-being, from coast to coast; and a Family Care Act gains support.

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Post-Election Stress: A Bipartisan Health Concern

"Trumpertension?" Rising stress levels since last November's election have health professionals concerned. (Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons)
"Trumpertension?" Rising stress levels since last November's election have health professionals concerned. (Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons)
March 6, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As President Donald Trump begins his seventh week in office, the level of emotion surrounding his election hasn't subsided on either side of the aisle. And that has mental health professionals concerned.

With executive orders, "tweet storms" and "alternative facts" now part of the daily vocabulary, some Floridians are finding it tough to separate politics from the rest of their lives. According to clinical psychologist Todd Favorite, you'd have to reach pretty far back into the nation's history to find a time when so many people experienced such a consistent level of stress over American politics.

But how much is too much?

"So, if you're having a hard time in relationships or you're overly worried, or you're irritable all the time, or you're not able to do your work - those would be our markers for where this is over the bounds of good function,” Favorite said.

He explained that stress increases cortisol levels, which can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and other health problems. And he said that those who simply can't find their bearings right now might benefit from talking to their primary care physician or a mental health professional.

Everyone deals with stress in different ways, and Favorite recommends finding self-soothing strategies that work for you. That might include meditation, spending time with friends, reading and exercise. He said being able to manage technology is another critical piece.

"All of the digital overlay just makes all of this much more vivid,” he said, "and it also makes it hard for individuals who are typically dialed into these kinds of media to be able to parse out, 'When do I shut it all off? When do I just get away from this and not be stimulated?’"

Because there's no way of knowing how long this highly charged political and social landscape will continue, Favorite said coping with it will require attention and focus.

"We have to intentionally kind of anchor ourselves, by behavioral anchors,” he said. "'What am I going to do today? How much am I going to pay attention to the news? How much am I going to do things that make me feel calm or give me a sense of well-being, or connection?'"

Some mental health professionals have dubbed the current mood "Post-Election Stress Disorder." And one California doctor - who said he's seen a sharp increase in high blood pressure in patients for whom it was previously well-controlled - has coined the phrase "Trumpertension."

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL