Often we complain with friends, family and workmates about politicians, saying such things like: Why are they doing this? Why don't they fix that? They don't listen. And, I just do not understand what they mean!
Comments that resemble people who are feeling the effects of stress or anxiety in their lives, more commonly associated with work, finances, relationships or a number of mental health disorders.
However, the one key statement of not understanding what local, state or national politicians are saying/meaning is most befitting to our ongoing pandemic, which like the bushfires in themselves has caused enough stress and anxiety on their own merits to many people locally and globally.
So why is this? Aren't politicians people like you and me? They are our neighbours and friends. They go to the same places of worship and their children go to the same schools as our children do. Or maybe social media and the need to be a 24/7 communicator like the US President is the root cause?
Well, the latter could be more to the point - communication for the sake of communicating. According to Michelle Riba - MD, MS, psychiatrist and associate director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center - many people are feeling the effects of political overload.
Signs that you're overloaded and overwhelmed by political content as related to national and world events include higher blood pressure than usual; weight gain or loss; anxiety or worried feelings; drastic mood changes; and sleep struggles.
As a society, we are becoming accustomed in tuning into news at anytime and anywhere. If you are waking up first thing in the morning and switching on Radio National or commercial news shows, commuting to work, or even checking social media feeds, take notice as to how the news content makes you feel.
Anxious, sad, worried or depressed? If this is occurring, then what content can you eliminate and from what source? Possibly limit that intake by only accessing those most reputable news sources, rather than the multitude of sources less reputable such as the Twitters of the social media world, where political content is possibly biased and aimed at particular interest groups or affiliations. How about in the workplace, around friends, family or in public spaces?
Many people may wish to share their thoughts on particular politicians or political views. Sure, it is OK to do so - however what about those around you who are in earshot and who may possibly be negatively affected by political comments, which can include children, thereby causing them undue stress and anxiety.
This is so true as I have been counselling children who have deep concerns as the increased level of political commentary is providing great uncertainty, in many cases, especially when talk surrounds negative prospects for our global future as related to unemployment or recession.
We also need to be mindful that other people may not be of the same mind or see things as you do. Therefore, never assume friends, family or work colleagues are of the same opinion especially if you are basing your knowledge or opinion on those politicians who are again using social media as platforms for rhetoric.
It is important you are continually assessing the political content you are consuming. If you are feeling a bit more agitated or anxious then you may need to be more proactive and get involved in a cause or policy change. In this way you will use your involvement as a "release valve" so increased stressors do not build up in inside.
In 2017, the American Psychological Association's annual survey found 57 per cent of respondents said they were stressed by politics.
In another study, Dr Kevin Smith a political scientist at the University of Nebraska conducted an online survey from a nationally representative sample and asked respondents a range of questions about how engaged they are in politics and how it is affecting their lives, health and wellbeing. The results revealed that nearly 40 percent of respondents said politics were a cause of stress in their lives. About 20 per cent reported losing sleep, feeling fatigued or being depressed owing to politics.
Between 10 and 30 per cent of the respondents said that politics took an emotional toll on them, by causing anger, frustration, hate or guilt, or caused them to make comments they later regretted.
Twenty per cent reported politics had damaged their friendships, with 16 per cent stating politics has made home life less pleasant.
Per Dr Riba: "While it's important to be aware of what's going on in our country and the world, you need to take care of yourself and mental health too."
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, they shouldn't be ignored. Seek out mental health support as these long-lasting symptoms could take a serious toll on a person's wellbeing.
Dr Anthony Perrone is college counsellor at Trinity Anglican College. The views expressed are Dr Perrone's and not necessarily those of Trinity Anglican College.