More than 69 percent of Americans reported being stressed by the current political climate reported in an Oct. 2018 survey. With families being torn asunder, bings being mailed to political detractors and hate crimes happening more frequently than ever, it’s no wonder we have anxiety about the future of our country.
But, fear, stress, and anxiety don’t have to be the norm. There are ways to alleviate the rampant worry we are experiencing. We need to make our own mental health a priority and practice self-care.
Whether it’s taking a break and going for a 10-minute walk, or taking a recess from social media, we all have ways to unplug and decompress. The news has become pervasive in our daily lives, and ‘me time’ is the perfect solution to the problem.
Limit Your Screen Time
Whether you’re a news junky or just watch news networks for a few minutes before or after work, it’s part of the problem. “Headline stress disorder” is a term coined by Dr. Steven Stosny following the 2016 election, and it’s the cause of most of our stress and news burnout.
You control what you consume and how much of it. If your preferred network is just adding to the problem then you should limit the amount of time you spend watching or listening to it.
Set a time limit for how much news you watch. Just tuning in for ten minutes, a half hour or even an hour can be enough to cause an anxiety attack. Make a conscious decision to tune out after the allotted time.
You should also refrain from reading news stories online. Social media is rife with political noise. There might come a time when you have to unfollow and even block some of your friends who post nothing but news stories and argue their point no matter how ridiculous.
A news blackout might be just what you need. It can lead to a healthier, happier you.
Dive Into a Hobby
Whether you enjoy hiking, gardening or needlepoint, a hobby is good for your mental health. Not only will it help get your mind of the current state of affairs, but it brings a sense of enjoyment.
Journaling is among the most highly recommended hobbies for stress relief. You can explore your creative side, or write the things that are bothering you so that you can resolve and reflect on them.
Yoga and meditation are also hobbies that are highly recommended. When you take time to on your breathing and quiet your mind, you can let go of repetitive thoughts and worries. You also reap physical and physiological benefits as yoga improves flexibility and has been shown to improve cognitive function.
Find Solace in Friends, Family, and Faith
Spending time with loved ones is a great way to de-stress. It’s easy to pack your schedule with work and other things that can be stressors. But when you come together with family and friends, you can let all that go, and focus on enjoying their company.
When people try to bring up a recent news story, choose to opt out of the conversation. Talking about it is just as stressful as watching it on tv. If the conversation turns political, or to current events that are more stressful than positive, politely excuse yourself letting your loved ones know you’re taking a hiatus from the negativity.
Faith is another place that many people turn to in times of stress, need or uncertainty. It gives a person a sense of purpose and allows them to lean on something greater than anything they can touch. A person with unshakeable faith can move mountains.
Volunteer For a Cause You Believe in
Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi
Volunteering gives you the chance to do something positive in a world where negativity has taken the forefront. We are so bombarded with the bad deeds people are doing to spread hate and fear that we forget we are forces of change and have the ability to do spread love.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s one of his most often used quotes because it’s inspiring and it’s true. If you want to fight homelessness, volunteer for a cause that helps the homeless. Shelters, homebuilding organizations, and medical services are some examples of causes for the homeless.
If you’re passionate about at-risk youth, women’s rights or animals, there are organizations who’d love to have you. Or perhaps you’d like to start your own non-profit for a cause you’re passionate about. You can invest as much time as you want which can help improve your stress level.
Retreat to Your Happy Place
Find a place that brings you joy where you can let your worries go. Create a welcoming space in colors that relax you, music you can unwind with or aromatherapy essential oils the promote relaxation.
If you’re at your happiest outdoors find a place that speaks to you. Be it a mountaintop, a stream in a field, or the middle of the woods, as long as your place makes you happy it works.
When you feel overwhelmed retreat to your happy place and shut everything else out. If it helps, you can even develop a mantra (something you say to yourself to get you into a specific state). For example, My world is calm, I am at peace. Your mantra can be anything that makes you feel calm and allows you to enter a relaxed state.
Know You’re Not Alone
Let’s face it. The state of the future looks bleak from certain points of view. Our leaders would rather divide than unite, and hate groups have stepped out of the shadows to reign terror on their preferred targets. And it doesn’t seem like it’ll change, at least for the next two years.
But one thing we can do is get involved in the political process and vote. It’s the only way to get the people who we believe will do what’s best for us and for the country into roles they need to be.
We can make changes, but we have to act. Being a spectator his proven to be the wrong choice. You can help assuage your worry by being an active participant. And, if you’re a millennial or Gen Z-er, you have the highest likeliness not to vote. You above all can be the difference between unity and division–between chaos and order.