Do the debates have your stomach tied in a knot? Tired of watching your friends argue on social media? Here are five tips for lowering political stress as Election Day approaches.
- Turn anxiety into action. Avoid just stewing about the other candidate(s). Instead, try to figure out ways you can act, like training to work at a polling location. Educate yourself as deeply as you can, write to public officials in support of a cause you believe in, or find volunteer work to alleviate some of many stressors our world faces.
- Search for calm news sources and avoid those that shout and argue. Argumentative news sources are nearly guaranteed to raise stress levels. Laugh, when you can, at sound bites. The world’s complexity can rarely be reduced to a pat phrase. Balance your viewing of straight news with humorous parodies. They can be informative in their own way but also provide stress-relieving humor.
- Vary your news sources. If you rely mainly on social media, try a newspaper, a thoughtful blog, or listening to the radio. Challenge yourself to see the other side of meaningful situations or questions.
- Avoid talking politics with people that you know are dogmatic, cannot see all sides of a question, or who have no empathy with the “other side” and are rigid believers. Such conversations are guaranteed to raise your stress level and are futile. Actively avoid them.
- Challenge yourself to find calming, helpful ways of thinking. Our representative democracy has resisted extremes for well over two hundred years. While it (as with any governmental institution) has its vulnerabilities, it has evolved and survived. Remind yourself of its durability and of our responsibilities to improve and preserve it.