Updated: Feb 14
With the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States around the corner, many people are stressed out. Have you noticed that you spend most of your time staring at your screen? Do you feel overwhelmed by the emotionally charged posts on social media and political news? Are you losing sleep over our country’s future?
All this stress can have a huge effect on a person’s mental wellness. According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, 27% of Americans said that their stress has increased since Election Day. 3 out of 4 Americans say that the political climate is a major source of stress. In fact, most Americans said that the three things that make them get stressed the most are the future of the nation, the pandemic, and the results of the 2020 U.S. election of the President.
Feeling stressed? You are not alone:
27% of Americans said that their stress has increased since Election Day
It’s normal to have different political views from those around you. But it has become harder to discuss your views with them now more than ever. Talking about politics can end up hurting someone’s feelings and can even potentially end relationships with them. No matter what your views are, you can feel the stress and tension from discussing the events of the last few months. Even if you’re apolitical or are not involved in political discussions, it’s hard to miss the tension on social media.
And all of this politically-induced stress is on top of the ongoing worries we’re all experiencing from the pandemic; the fear of getting sick, losing a loved one, or becoming unemployed has made life difficult. In addition to that, people are experiencing additional stress from the election this past November. The large number of mail ballots sent in and overall early voting made this past election take longer than usual. It’s normal that these changes take a toll on our minds and that we feel overwhelmed and stressed.
Unfortunately, stress can affect our wellness in many ways. One way is that stress can negatively impact our body. According to the American Psychological Association, stress affects our muscles. This means that when we feel stressed, the muscles in our body tense up. The human body reacts this way to protect itself from any harm. Unfortunately, your physical reaction to stress comes with other consequences: it is normal that we also get headaches and even back pain.
Another way stress can affect us is the emotional changes we go through. According to the British Mental Health Foundation, people feel anxiety, fear, sadness, and frustration when they are under stress. These stress-induced feelings can feed on each other and can even cause severe mental health problems.
Even though experiencing stress might differ from person to person, it is very common in our daily lives. However, many people are not aware of the negative effects of stress on our wellness. During these times, it becomes very important to check in with yourself and improve your mental wellness. If you feel it is hard for you to cope with stress, check out our recent blog posts about stress and how to cope with stress.
While we can’t control the news, there are things that are in our control. We can learn how to deal with these politically induced stressors in a way that will not completely mentally drain us and jeopardize our mental wellness.
Here are 5 ways that will help your mental wellbeing through the tense political climate:
1. Reduce screen time on political content
Staying up to date is important. However, it is equally important to focus on yourself. According to a recent study from the APA, people who constantly read negative information, posts, or news will have an unhealthy level of stress. So, make sure you start your day by focusing on yourself and your wellness before catching up with the news. To make sure that you reduce screen time, you can also set limits on the different news applications or websites you use.
2. Go on daily walks
Take a break from all the drama. Daily walks are not only great for your physical health, but they also help sustain your mental wellness. According to Walking for Health, walking improves your self-perception, self-esteem, mood, and sleep quality. It even reduces the chance of developing mental illnesses. Enjoy the outdoors and try to appreciate the nature around you.
3. Stay out of social media arguments
Once the news is out, you’ll almost see it on all social media. People will argue and give their own opinion. While it is important to talk to people and have an open mind for others’ opinions, sometimes it is better to just stay out of it for your own wellness. Especially online, people are unfortunately extra mean. Users can voice their opinion without showing their faces, which often takes away their empathy for other users. This also counts for family members and friends. Once you feel that a political debate may create a tense argument, try to excuse yourself or just slowly change the topic. However, if you think you have upset someone and would like to effectively apologize, check out our blog about 5 Effective Ways to Apologize Better. The key here is to find a healthy balance between engaging in meaningful discourse and maintaining your mental wellbeing.
4. Try Meditation
Meditation is ‘the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed’. Besides feeling more relaxed and calm, mediation can also help you turn your focus towards something else. This activity is particularly helpful if you find yourself constantly thinking about politics or other matters on your mind.
5. Connect with people
To improve our mental wellness, it is important to stay connected with other people. As humans, we like to be social. However, since we are still in a global pandemic, it is hard to see friends and family in person. One option to stay connected to your family and friends is to arrange a virtual meeting. There are many options like Zoom, Skype, etc. that will even give you the chance to meet with multiple people from different parts of the world. Catching up with these people you care for will help you get your mind off any stressors you’re feeling and bring more meaning to your life.
While nobody can promise a calm future, you can promise yourself that no matter what the news brings in the next few days, you will focus on your mental wellness first. Be mindful of your feelings and wellness as we continue living our lives in this unique time in history.
By: Jil Johannpeter