Americans are more stressed now than at any time since April, or the early days of the COVID pandemic last year. This is the conclusion of an opinion poll recently commissioned by the American Psychological Association.
Conducted by the Harris Poll, it shows the average stress level of 5.6 on the scale of 1 to 10, with 84% of respondents feeling “at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress in the prior two weeks”, such as anxiety, sadness and anger. According to the APA, “The majority of adults reported the future of our nation (81%), the coronavirus pandemic (80%) and political unrest around the country (74%) as significant sources of stress in their lives. And despite more than three weeks having passed since the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 66% of adults said this event was a significant source of stress.”
It’s not really surprising that stress levels have not been falling. For all the promise of a COVID vaccine or vaccines, the pandemic continues to cause death and mayhem, not helped by hints from above that even after you get your shot, life will not still be returning back to normal. And let’s face it, the last three month have been a special shitshow, even by the already high standards of recent American political history. Things might now be returning back to “normal” – as in “business as usual” in Washington DC – but not necessarily “better” in terms of tangible, positive outcomes in people’s lives.
Even those of us on the outside can sympathise with the Great American Stress of 2020/21.
At the risk of drawing everything back to oneself – but hey, that’s what blogging to a large extent is all about – in those early days of February, I’m being simultaneously torn by three somewhat contradictory perceptions or feelings:
- Every single day brings great many – too many – new things to get outraged about.
- There is increasingly nothing that outrages me enough to motivate me to write about it.
- I’m exhausted from being continuously outraged.
(On the rare oft-chance you have been wondering lately why The Daily Chrenk is more like The Weekly Chrenk or The Occasional Chrenk, there you have it.)
I have been chatting the other week to an old friend from the US, who has been following my scribblings since the original blog in 2004. She couldn’t understand how someone like me, who has been writing about American politics for so long and with such strong views, could come across seemingly so dispassionate in my recent posts, considering the outrageous reality of a stolen “Trump vs everyone else” election. I explained that this apparent flatness was merely a tactic of self-preservation, lest too much rage – and outrage – actually makes me sick, as, in fact, the past year I have been angrier than at any time over the past thirty years of being interested, involved in and writing about politics. Angry at the unstoppable march of wokeness, identity politics, Critical Race Theory and other products of cultural Marxism through our institutions and societies. Angry at the convergence of the political and intellectual left with the media, Hollywood, Wall Street, Big tech, Big Business, Big State, Deep State and Shallow State, all posing as the brave “resistance” defending everything that’s decent and precious. Angry that after spending my first 15 years under communism and the subsequent 30+ years enjoying if not naively the “end of history” than at least some normalcy and respite, the same soft and hard totalitarian instincts are alive and at play again – threatening our life, liberty and prosperity in the form of “Make Socialism Cool Again” crowd and legions of their useful idiots from within as well as the cashed-up, confident, combative Marketist-Leninist China from without (though increasingly, thanks to the buying power of the red gold, from within too). There’s lots to be angry about. It’s also a lot to be tired being constantly angry about.
What’s the solution? I wish I knew. The challenges we face are serious; we can’t ignore them or laugh them away. The world today is already much different than what it was twenty years ago; give it another twenty and you won’t be able to recognise it, and not for the better. Anger and stress can be good in moderate amounts as they motive us to do things and try to change the things we don’t like. In larger amounts, they are counterproductive because self-defeating and deadly because (our)self-destroying. We need to be warriors, but we also need to work at trying to be happy warriors.
In the meantime, here are some cute puppies to destress you:
Sorry, wrong puppies. Here we are (with big melons):