Are you finding yourself dreading looking at the latest news your phone?
Do you find yourself screaming at the TV about the news?
Are you bothered on a deep level about the state of the world?
Are you possibly even avoiding family functions because of political differences?
Have you stopped watching the news?
Are you watching too much news?
Are you getting into Facebook arguments on a daily basis about politics
What is Political Anxiety?
Political anxiety is a term used to describe the recent increase in anxiety. Many people, regardless of party or political affiliation, are experiencing in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and in the current political climate in the United States. Also referred to as post-election stress, political anxiety is not an official mental health diagnosis but a term that can be used in times of a stressful or divided political climate to reflect the reactions resulting from this turmoil. The American Psychological Association, two-thirds of people are stressed about the future of the country, including 60 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats. Many of these individuals claim they worry about political issues on a daily basis, often finding it difficult to get good sleep.
Worrying about current events also often leads people to check news and social media sites more frequently out of a desire to stay informed. This increased vigilance may, however, have the unintended consequence of increasing worrying and can also lead to insomnia and other issues. How often are you checking your phone to read about the news? How often are you checking your social media because you’re upset about the news? How is this impacting your daily life? Many also experience strained interpersonal relationships as a result of political anxiety or political differences. Having relationship issues can leave people feeling angry and upset with those close to them or misunderstood, ignored, and even detached from their families.
Making Political Anxiety worse
Most people do a poor job of managing their political anxiety (and anxiety in general). People may try to vent their emotions by criticizing and name calling. People check their preferred news feeds obsessively, looking for evidence that they are right. We may avoid listening to views not our own, or even avoid interacting with others who have different political beliefs altogether. And of course, we worry and we stress. We lay awake at night with the what if's scrolling across our brains. However, none of this works. It might provide temporary relief, but it's just masking the problem or exacerbating the underlying issue.
Ways to reduce Political Anxiety
- Be politically active- This is a strategy that can help combat anxiety, and contributing to change often provides a sense of self-efficacy and hope while reducing feelings of powerlessness.
- Vote- It’s a way to feel heard and not powerless.
- Call your political representatives.
- Protest- it is your American right.
- Join organizations
- Limit your news intake! There is no need to have your preferred news channel on in the background all day. It will make you feel powerless, angry, helpless and can really have a negative impact on your mental health. If you’re really brave you can stop watching the news and become informed via reading the news.
- Limit social media! People generally don’t feel better after engaging in some silly fight on Facebook about political views.
- Go outside and be in nature, in my opinion, it has healing powers and its free…make sure you leave your phone in your car.
- Go for a walk or do your preferred exercise which also will make you feel better.
- Self-care- getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, listening to music, making time for hobbies, and relaxation, meditation, yoga or massage.
- Spending time with people who make you laugh.
CAN THERAPY HELP WITH POLITICAL ANXIETY?
Therapy can be helpful in the treatment of any anxiety, including political anxiety. A professional therapy or counseling environment can provide a safe and supportive space for people to process and understand their thoughts and feelings. Many mental health professionals report an increase in the number of people in treatment who have recently been discussing election-related stress in sessions. Therapists not only provide a sympathetic ear, but they are also often able to teach coping methods and help people in treatment develop strategies to address affected relationships and improve their overall sense of well-being. When political anxiety interferes with an individual’s ability to function, it may be especially beneficial to consider seeking help from a mental health professional.