Tens of millions of us believe that politics is exacting a toll on our social, psychological, emotional and, even, physical health. A study done in late 2019 shows, for example, that over thirty eight percent of the 800 people surveyed nationally said that politics is the root of their stress and that they have become depressed when a preferred candidate loses. Those who’ve lost sleep over it comes in at over 18 percent and over 11 percent attribute failing physical health to their angst over politics. To be clear, the survey explored people’s perceptions of their health, not actual diagnoses. Kevin Smith, lead author of the study and chair of the political science department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, joins us to break down the findings and what he believes underpins some rather dramatic impacts. The findings were published in the journal PLOS One and are corroborated by the American Psychological Association in their annual report titled ‘Stress in America’. As a society consumed by the daily back and forth among national leaders, we explore the impacts on politics downstream. Are we paying enough attention to issues closer to home on the state and local level? And is the national vitriol permeating those politics as well? It’s a revealing conversation and forces each of us to ask what we can do to react to things that disturb us in a more healthy manner. Some might argue getting off the sidelines and involving yourself in the true work of politics might be one answer. The other might be to shut off the TV set and go for a walk.
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