With the news and social media available everywhere from TV screens to the phones at our fingertips, it seems like politics makes a regular appearance in our lives. In this current political climate, it’s not uncommon to hear about the numerous issues our country is facing. And with so many opposing opinions bombarding our Facebook pages, television screens, and face-to-face conversations, the topic of politics may start to feel overwhelming. Learning how to manage political stress is an important step in maintaining your wellness.
What can I do to manage political stress?
Fortunately, there are ways to navigate political stress without sacrificing technology or completely deleting our social media. Here are a few tips to help reduce political-related stress:
- Identify Triggers – Pay attention to the amount of time you spend immersed in politics, from watching the news, checking politically-related emails, or even reading debates on social media. It’s good to stay informed about current events but focusing too much on politics can take away from other positive aspects of your day. Learn to turn off the TV or log out of social media for a few hours. People can be triggers too. It’s normal to butt heads with others, but if reoccurring debates turn into huge stressors for you, consider setting aside political conversations with them. Setting boundaries is helpful.
- Breathe – If you find yourself involved in a hateful, insensitive, or disheartening conversation (face-to-face or online) focus on your breathing. It’s easy to fire back with your opinion but expressing anger will only fuel the conflict. Instead, redirect your attention to your breath, inhaling slow and deep for a few counts. Remember, if things get too stressful, stepping away from the conversation or computer screen is always an option.
- Be proactive – Replying to that hateful Tweet or comment on Facebook will not help you or convince the other person your view is right. Instead, find a way to get involved with the movement you support. Call your representatives to voice your opinion, volunteer with a local organization, donate money to a movement you support, or join a support group.
- Stay open minded – The more we seek news outlets that support our own views, the more we will feel alienated with those who have views different than ours. It’s important to occasionally seek out news sources that give a different perspective than our own so that we can understand where the other side is coming from. Try listening to the other side without bringing in your prior judgements. You might learn something new.
- Focus on the small things – It is important to stay updated, but sometimes it’s better to look away from the larger picture and focus on your daily tasks. Take time to enjoy what is happening in front of you – whether its appreciating your lunch break or the long walk to your car. Focus your energy on the things you can control. Life is a combination of the big and small things, so make sure you balance both.
- Prioritize your own well-being – There is an infinite amount of reform that the world could use, but you can’t help anyone if you aren’t helping yourself first. Make sure to get enough sleep and engage in regular exercise. Numerous studies have found that physical activity reduces stress and increases neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) that are responsible for making you happy.
It’s easy to get caught up in political issues and debates and feel overwhelmed. But sometimes, political differences can lead to more than just debates. If you ever feel that the political climate is threatening your well-being or safety, do not hesitate to get help. Our MFTs at Counseling California are trained to help you in whatever situation you find yourself in. Visit our directory to find a therapist who can help.
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