February 15th, 2017
Taking Care of Yourself in Today’s Political Landscape
Like most heated exchanges, the conversation started very innocently over a late Sunday afternoon cup of coffee. Some pleasant banter back and forth about kids and pop culture slowly morphed into stinging and increasingly critical personal and political character assassinations about the other person.
"You're such a Trump apologist! That guy is such an idiot", said the one friend
"Whatever...just put on your big boy pants, snowflake, as the tough work of making America great again is about to start", the other friend responded.
Within a minute, the conversation went completely negative and two friends were now raising their voices at each other. Does this situation sound familiar to you? It seems to be happening everywhere now. Anger over a friend’s Facebook post. News updates and heated exchanges on cables news channels.
Regardless of your political persuasion, today’s political climate has many of us feeling alienated and unsettled – maybe even anxious and scared. The controversies, discontent and ongoing social media skirmishes are pitting friends and family against each other in a way we haven't really experienced before. To be fair, politics has always been a heated topic but this is different. In fact, the current situation has grown so bad that many mental health professionals have called the post-election effect we are seeing in this country a major concern for emotional health and well-being.
So what are you supposed to do if you are feeling angry, anxious or frustrated? How are you supposed to manage relationships with others that are now your political enemies? Well, to be fair, everyone has the right to feel exactly what they are feeling right now. You shouldn’t feel bad or less than for feeling the way you feel. But we all need to take better care of ourselves so we are not left in a bad emotional space.
While we are all different, consider the following strategies:
- Be aware of your emotional triggers. If social media is upsetting you, limit your time on sites like Facebook. Some people have gone as far as deleting their social media accounts all together. Do what makes most sense for you.
- Limit time watching cable news. Stay informed but too much viewing can lead to information and emotional overload. And limit viewing before you go to sleep.
- When engaged in political debate, remember that people are deeply committed and invested in their beliefs; you are not going to change someone’s mind in one conversation so don’t try.
- If you are frustrated and feeling helpless about the political scene, do something local to make a difference. Go clean your local beach. Volunteer at a local social service agency. Options are easy to find with a simple google search.