August 13, 2019

Dealing With Political Anxiety

Leigh Richardson, NCC, LPC, BCN, BCB

Leigh Richardson, NCC, LPC, BCN, BCB
Clinical Director and Founder/The Brain Performance Center

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The 2020 presidential election is coming. Even though we are over a year away from the actual election, things are starting to heat up on both sides. If 2016 is any sign, this 2020 election year has a chance to be just as ugly. That will trigger a lot of debates, but also plenty of political anxiety.

Until the election takes place, there will be a slow build-up of more and more coverage around the clock, not allowing anyone to escape at times. Already worried about what it is going to be like?  Here is a look at political anxiety as the race gets closer and how to keep it out of your home.

Stay away from political commentary

It's important to keep up with local and national news, and of course, anything truly noteworthy leading up to the election. With that being said, actual news can only fill up so much of the airtime for television shows. Magazines and newspapers can only fill up their work with so much new as well. What do they add for some extra spice? Political commentary and creating "hot takes" on one side or the other.

While there are points made in some of these features from time to time, most of them are just going to add extra stress and anxiety. Every publication has at least somewhat of a bias, so what happens is many people seek out what they already believe in. Getting confirmation on beliefs is great, but it's unhealthy to consistently seek out the opposition to see what they have to say. What new point is a heavy left-leaning or right-leaning publication really going to break?

Views dictate the online world, and television channels are always trying for great ratings as well. People need to remember that when they see something controversial said on a channel. Do they truly believe what they are saying, or is it all a ploy to get positive and negative reactions from the two major political parties?  Most people will have an emotional reaction to this type of news and this gives these stories much more impact.

Unplug

Ever since social media took off, there has been no shortage of opinions. In the beginning, most were innocent, but around election time, Facebook and Twitter turn into a war zone with some back-and-forth arguments.

Professionals are no strangers to sharing their thoughts on the election, but what adds to anxiety for many people is seeing family and friends constantly argue over stances. If your uncle and youngest cousin have opposite views and are calling each other names in comments, how's that going to affect the next family gathering?

Consider this when reading any political arguments on social media: when has anyone with strong opinions decided to change political parties based on what someone told them online? The odds of that happening are slim to none. Social media talk leads to a lot of wasted energy, and it can be very unhealthy for individuals.

Get involved with the community without taking a side

One of the biggest focuses going into the 2020 presidential election is increasing the number of voters across the board. Too many people use every excuse in the book not to take time out of their day to vote.

One vote might not seem like that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but everyone can agree that the country needs more participation.

If volunteering in the right way, this is a positive overall. It helps spread a good message, and there is no need to take one side or another. It's one of the most positive things a person can do to help out with the upcoming election. Sometimes, the best way to deal with any type of anxiety is to do a bit of good.

Focus on family and friends

Whoever wins the 2020 election, there will be plenty of disappointed people. Instead of letting an election dictate the mood of a house, focus on those most important in your life.

No matter who is in office, people in the United States have a lot of control of their happiness and success. Embrace what you believe in, work hard towards your individual goals and don't let politics take up too much of your energy.

One other important thing to remember is that others (including the people that you are closest with like your spouse, parents and siblings) may not have the same political views as you.  Remember, this is okay and political differences are not worth losing a relationship over.  Unfortunately, there are times that family members have such strong opinions against another’s views that it breaks a family.

Remember that there is a checks and balances system in the United States for a reason. A president can't win the election and change everything in just a few years. Control what you can control, and don't let a win or a loss make a huge difference.

Pubblished in The Katy Trail 08/19

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