Research has confirmed what many of us have experienced first-hand: The political climate can take a serious toll on our well-being. A new study published in PLOS One found that “a large number of Americans believe their physical health has been harmed by their exposure to politics and even more report that politics has resulted in emotional costs and lost friendships.” The personal fallout for respondents in the PLOS One study included sleep loss, fatigue, feelings of frustration and guilt, and even depression.
To help you avoid these negative effects and keep your cool when things in Washington are heating up, we asked members of the Thrive community to share their best tips for dealing with politics-induced stress.
Create a media routine and stick to it
“After the 2016 election, I was completely consumed by political news coverage. My friend told me she was worried for my health because she could see it affecting my stress and anxiety levels. Now, I only read the news on a limited basis. I subscribe to one daily political newsletter, keep news notifications turned off on my computer during the day, and then read or listen to the news on a podcast on the way home from work. I never watch the news on television. Though it was a difficult shift at first and I was afraid I’d miss something crucial, I’ve found that this routine allows me to stay informed while and manage my anxiety levels. It also helps me stay present and mindful during the day.”
—Calisa Hildebrand, communications, San Francisco, CA
Be a participant, not a spectator
“We are only as inundated as we choose to be. Turning off cell phone notifications is helpful — unless you work in politics or journalism, there is nothing you need to know immediately. I also find it is infinitely less stressful to read the news as opposed to watching it. What we see and hear leaves a deeper imprint than what we read. And lastly, do something. Take an action about what upsets you most. Call a congressperson, take up a cause, run for office. Be a participant and not a spectator.”
—Ilene Angel, author, Yonkers, NY
Opt for news-free morning
“I no longer watch the morning news. Watching the morning news started my day with so much negativity so I listen to music instead.”
—Natalie Bonfig, writer, St. Paul, MN
Seek to understand
“I don’t know why anyone sees every single issue through a partisan lens. While many people might lean more one way or the other, there are so many gray areas. I enter conversations looking for others to help me see their side of the story. I want to know why they believe what they do. In the end, I believe we are all more alike than different. We want to feel safe, have our health taken care of, and know that our children will have the ability to grow their minds and fulfil their dreams. When I embrace the point of view that everyone is coming from that place, I don’t feel stressed about politics.”
—Siobhan Kukolic, author, inspirational speaker, and life coach, Toronto, ON, Canada
Focus on what you can control
“There is a lot of negativity in our political climate right now so to mitigate politics-induced stress and anxiety, I try my best to focus on what change I can effect as just one person. I’m a big advocate for educating yourself about what’s going on in the world to stay in the know. With this knowledge and understanding of what resources we have at our disposal, we can act or participate on an individual level.”
—Melissa Muncy, content marketing, San Francisco, CA
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