Political stress is becoming more common. In my practice I am hearing about the stress of the political climate with increasing frequency.
Whatever side of the aisle you land on (I am not here to debate politics) you may be feeling stressed.
This often occurs around the time of a big election when tensions are already high, but in the last 10 years or so it seems that the tension has been lasting longer. This is a global phenomenon. We are all touched by politics in some way.
If you are stressed about politics you are not alone. But what can we do about it on an individual level? The focus of this blog is to discuss stress and what we can do about it personally.
While none of us can directly change the political climate we can–and I argue should– manage our part in that climate. This is the part that is changeable on an individual level. Remember back in early posts we talked about looking at what we can control and what we can’t and developing strategies accordingly. Review those here and here.
Addressing Your Part in Politics
- Know your issue(s)
- Get involved at your comfort level
- Act locally
- Be kind
- Get distance
Know the political issues you are passionate about.
Break down the issues and decide which are most important to you. There are a lot of issues in any cycle and it would be impossible for anyone to be well informed on ALL of them. Choose 1 or 2 that you feel most passionate about and focus on those. These are the issues that you will be best informed on. Everything else can be relegated to the back burner. In doing this you can be somewhat informed on those issues, while your primary issues are the ones that you’ll be most informed on.
Get involved at a level that feels right to you.
Get involved at your personal comfort level. Not everyone is built to make phone calls or knock on doors. If you feel most comfortable just being informed so you can talk with your friends and family about the issues you are most passionate about then that’s good enough. That said if you’ve always wanted to go door to door then find a way to do that.
Make local politics your point of entry and action.
Act locally. While national politics is often more accessible in terms of what we see and hear on the news or in our news feed, local politics is truly accessible to the individual.
Being involved at this level often provides a feeling of being really involved and then seeing how the issues play out. Also these are typically the politics that most affect us on a personal level, so getting involved here makes it more likely that you will have an effect that you can see/feel.
Be kind. Having political discussions is difficult if we don’t agree. Most of these conversations will likely occur with family members or work colleagues. While these conversations can be emotionally engaging they can also be minefields of disaster. If you devolve into saying things you can’t take back you will create more pain for yourself and your relationship. I would argue this also creates suffering for all involved. While you can’t control the others in the conversation, you can control your part. If things take a nasty turn, step back and even leave the situation if needed.
Take a break from the political fray.
If you are feeling so stressed that you don’t want to hear one more thing about politics take a break.
In my practice I often suggest a “news fast.” This is either completely tuning out of the news or radically changing your consumption.
I hear of many homes where the television is on to various news channels “all day.” Given that most news channels are cycling the same news over and over through the day that becomes a lot of repetition which can feel overwhelming.
I suggest turning off the television and consuming news through printed material. You may want to take a complete break and that’s good too. Every year I see more and more people taking a break from social media for a period of time. I think this is great because they are using their personal control over an issue that is feeling stressful to them.
In conclusion, if you are feeling stressed about politics you are not alone and better yet there is something you can do about it.
Which of the strategies above are you planning to implement to address political stress?
Leave your answer in the comment section.