Can political arguments adversely impact your health?By Veita Bland, M.D. / July 7, 2023
To say that we are living in contentious times, as far as politics in the United States is concerned, is an understatement. The factions of the different parties are numerous. The right and the left components within each party is immense. The divide between the different parties is so far apart that the Grand Canyon could easily fit between the parties. The reasons for this divide are many and too numerous to try to list. The question raised here is, does this chasm in politics influence your health? Do those friendly and unfriendly arguments between friends and family damage your health?
Well, researchers with North Carolina State University tackled this problem. They examined research participants during the 2018 elections. The participants ranged from age 18 to 86. They were recruited from across the nation and American Samoa. They were required to fill out daily questionnaires starting 22 days before the elections and continuing seven days after the conclusion of the elections. Some were taught the skill of anticipatory coping or problem analysis to determine its effect on their responses to election results.
Here is what the researchers determined: Worrying about political elections as well as worrying about the anticipated arguments those results could precipitate could indeed adversely affect a person’s health.
The researchers found that anticipation during an election cycle was enough to cause participants in this study to report feeling worse physically. This happened within 24 hours of the election. Researchers also noted the participants felt the high stress of the anticipation of results and the anticipated arguments due to those results contributed to the participants reporting worse physical health.
This election stress happened among men and women of all age groups and all political orientations, except those people, who that actively practiced problem analysis.
Problem analysis involves breaking down a problem into understandable components.
Stress has long been known to have negative effects on one’s health. The ability to recognize and anticipate the issues that the elections and politics bring can provide participants in this research the ability to break down the issues and mitigate their effects on them.
The ability to use the strategies of problem analysis gives participants the ability to reason out anticipated problems and think of ways to avoid having political arguments or find ideas to make the arguments less heated than they would have been.
Using problem analysis may provide a way for people to avoid conflict and create less stress in their lives. Politics and elections can have life or death consequences. Thoughtful analysis of these issues may help mitigate the real stress they wrought.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.