Personally, when the presidential election was unfolding last year, I had no desire to watch any debates or to listen to any candidates stance on anything. In fact, I did not even vote in this past election. I mostly use the excuse that I never received my out of state voting slip from Texas and since I am not a Massachusetts resident I could not vote here. But honestly, I did not care to vote. I did not care that my slip never arrived, and my vote probably would not have made a difference. I do not really care about politics at all, for many reasons. The most important reason for me is the stress that comes with worrying about how our country is being run. I am stressed out already by so many things, if I can prevent more stress, I will. There was a time that I used to think of changing my ways and maybe giving more of my attention to learning about the individuals who run our country and what their values are. However, after living with my roommate for a year, I saw how this knowledge could be detrimental. For example, my roommate is a hardcore democrat, feminist, social rights activist, etc. She has hardcore beliefs that define the person she is. While this does not bother me at all, it does bother me how this past presidential election drove her crazy. When she found out Trump was our next President she literally could not go to work for days after. Me, on the other hand, was shocked with the outcome but did not let it hinder my ability to get my work done.
Our readings this week really sought to understand how politics can affect our stress levels for the group of people that lose. Specifically, one study by Trawalter and colleagues (2011) examined physiological stress responses to the 2008 presidential election and wanted to measure if this physiological stress responses change in part by individuals levels of social dominance orientation (SDO). SDO is the measurement of how much an individual supports the hierarchical arrangement in the US, were racial minority groups are at the bottom, while Whites are at the top. Their results showed that individuals with higher SDO exhibited higher cortisol values post-election, amongst other findings (Trawalter, Chung, DeSantis, Simon, & Adam, 2011). This study is just one that shows how politics can affect our cortisol levels for the worse. While this study was conducted on the election Obama won, one study was conducted on the past election. Majumder and colleagues (2017) used surveys to better understand the risk factors associated with pre and post-election stress in the US. While a majority of Republicans were devastated with Obama’s win, I doubt they were as upset as Democrats were this past election. The authors’ results found women were more likely to score higher on stress related to the election than men. Additionally, the authors found many other factors that could contribute to election-related stressors (Majumder, Nguyen, Sacco, Mahan, & Brownstein, 2017). While these studies provide evidence of the detriments politics can have on our health, terrorism can also have a great effect on both our mental and physical health.
There is no doubt that both domestic and foreign terrorism affect the US in many ways. A review conducted by Garfin & Holman (2016), presented evidence of both indirect and direct consequences of experiencing a traumatic event on our both mental and physical health. These consequences include developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as posttraumatic symptoms (PTS). Additionally, a number of negative life events that occur before a terrorist attack, may influence how we respond to the attack (Garfin & Holman, 2016). Lastly, a study conducted by Strand and colleagues (2016) showed that there was a greater increase of health outcomes during the first four weeks after a terrorist attack in Norway (Strand et al., 2016). Taken together, this information can help guide how we can improve our mental and physical health in order to prevent the detrimental effects of terrorism.