Feeling anxiety about politics is normal. The decisions our political representatives make affect our work, our homes, our futures — pretty much every aspect of our lives. But letting political anxiety run our lives isn’t helpful. If you’ve found yourself glued to the news and worse for it, we have some tips for managing (and channeling) your election-related stress.
1. Pay attention to your specific stressors.
Some of us can scroll social media and not feel stress, others can debate with family for hours and walk away unbothered. Tune in to where and how you feel stress. Sometimes we have to listen to our bodies to better understand our stressors. Watch out for shallow breathing, deflated posture, clenching your jaw or hands. If you notice you’re doing one of these things, what triggered it? Step away from the stress and practice self-care.
2. Amp up the self-care.
Politics are stressful! Even when the people we’re voting for win, it’s rare that we’re in complete alignment with our representatives’ views. There’s always work to be done, so you should always be prioritizing your mental health. Setting up a good baseline is smart, and it will help you know what to do when anxiety strikes. If you’re not already making real time for self-care, start now. That can be through journaling, daily gratitude exercises, meditating, or all three. Anxious thoughts can pile up if you don’t sweep them out.
3. Create boundaries with information.
We often stress ourselves out by reading the news and scrolling through social media, but it’s important to take breaks and have boundaries. Staying up to watch the results of an election is one thing, but staying up to scroll through projected polling numbers several weeks in advance is another. If politics are stressing you out, you need to create a system that allows you to be informed within reason. You can use an app like Moment to limit the amount of time you spend on certain sites and apps. You can also designate “news check” times, like 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the evening. Also, make it a rule: no news at least 30 minutes before bed. Choices like that support your mental health. Doing so will better prepare you for whatever happens in the future.
4. Choose an issue or organization to focus on.
If your inbox is filled with messages asking for support, it can feel overwhelming. And when we’re overwhelmed, it’s hard to take any action at all. While many of these causes and races will matter to you, if you’re feeling anxious, focusing on just one can help you feel more in control. Maybe that’s a particular political race like a congressperson, maybe it’s voter rights, or maybe it’s just helping your friends and family understand their local candidates. Whatever it is, by picking one area to focus on, you can alleviate some of those feelings of choice paralysis.
The most important thing you can do when it comes to feeling stress and overwhelmed is have an understanding of what is causing you to feel that way. Once we know the problem, we can start sorting out solutions. Whenever you’re stressed, you can always turn to Sanvello for a thought reframing exercise, a meditation, a journal entry, even just a relaxing playlist. When you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to take care of your community. And that’s a good thing no matter who’s in charge.