If Trump makes Americans anxious, what about Xi, Putin and Prayut?

US President Donald Trump has been trying to achieve his campaign promise to make America great again but various researches and surveys indicate that the Americans have become more anxious and have to practice more meditation to relieve stress.

A few newspaper headlines indicate the phenomenon, known as the American’s stress and anxiety, might not have been caused by Trump’s policy alone but also the repercussions from leaders of other countries like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

For example, on October 26, 2017, the Washington Post’s headline says: “Student anxiety and hostility on public high school campuses has worsened since Donald Trump became president and is affecting student learning, according to a new UCLA report.”

Then Apple said in December that meditation start-up Calm was so successful during a chaotic and stressful 2017 that Apple recognized it as the app of the year.

Founded in 2012 in San Francisco by Michael Acton Smith, Calm more than tripled its sales last year and was generating $40 million in annual revenue by the end of 2017, Acton Smith told CNBC in a December interview. That number has since jumped to $60 million.

Calm, which to date has only raised $1.5 million in seed financing, is being rewarded by investors. Insight Venture Partners is leading a funding round that values Calm at about $250 million.

The Calm app is free but the company charges $60 a year for subscriptions to the full library of meditation, music and sleep content. The paid offering includes audio programs like “7 days of sleep” and “21 days of calm” that guide users through daily 10- to 15-minute sessions for relieving stress and anxiety.

Acton Smith said in December that growth in 2017 was tied to everything from concerns around Syria and North Korea to the avocado crisis, with prices hitting record highs. Perhaps no single event was as important as the US presidential election in late 2016, which Acton said was “one of the triggers” for growth last year.

“Donald Trump is not to everyone’s taste and he makes some people angry and frustrated,” Acton Smith said in the interview.

Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk who left the monastery in 2004 and co-founded Headspace in 2010, when asked about the explosive growth of his meditation app Headspace since the election of President Trump, said more people are trying to “find calm and clarity when they see so much chaos and confusion.”

Headspace’s numbers alone are suggestive. The app recently surpassed 15 million downloads, up from 5 million at the beginning of 2016.

Headspace’s SOS feature — a special meditation designed to calm users down during “sudden meltdowns” also jumped 44 per cent the day after Trump was elected president.  And so far in 2017, there’s been a 31 percent bump in SOS sessions monthly compared to 2016.

Calm is currently ranked 50th among top grossing apps on iOS, according to App Annie while Headspace is ranked 116.

Putin is also believed to have caused more anxiety among the Russians now that the country has faced with strong protests from the West.

Around a hundred of Russian diplomats are being kicked out of more than 23 counties — including 18 EU states, the US and Canada.

Russia also retaliated by expelling 60 US diplomats along with diplomats from at least 23 countries on Friday, as a reciprocal move after those countries expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with the UK over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent.

Anxiety in China is also believed to rise as President Trump and Xi Jinping of China are engaging in a trade war.

In Thailand, anxiety is believed to be arising now that the country is plagued not only with rabies but more alarmingly with corruption cases especially by state officials during the Prayut administration, which, in the eyes of the public, has not done decisively enough in taking action against those found guilty.

What frustrated the public most is that when corruption cases are exposed, those state officials involved, policemen included, would only be transferred to another place, followed by committees, sub-committees being set up and the process could go on for years.


Top: An anxious man peeks out of the window as if looking for hope. Photo: Hunter McGinnis (CC-by-2.0)

By Kowit Sanandang