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4 Tips for Managing Anxiety Triggered by Politics

By: Kristina Murr

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“Anxiety” and “politics” are two words that in recent years have been used more and more frequently together. No matter what your views are, politics and overall views can be sensitive subjects.

In fact, a recent study found that 40% of Americans find politics to be a significant source of stress in their lives. The same study also found that young adults are the most affected and impacted by recent political events.

Let’s discuss how anxiety and politics are related and how to manage anxiety in this ever-changing political climate.

Why Politics Cause Anxiety

When faced with a real or perceived threat, the autonomic nervous system kicks into gear, initiating the body’s fight-or-flight response. Anxiety ensues when this response escalates beyond mere psychological fear or ongoing worry. For many individuals, anxiety triggers a heightened state of alertness in the brain, resulting in increased tension as they anticipate the impending negative event.

The anxiety surrounding politics is frequently linked to the relentless nature of the 24-hour news cycle and the constant influx of news alerts accessible through social media, streaming platforms, and various apps. This continuous coverage, coupled with the unfolding of events in real-time, amplifies the mental health impact for many individuals.

Many individuals who find themselves frequently preoccupied with politics often fixate on concerns about potential outcomes and worst-case scenarios if opposing candidates were to win. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for them to grapple with the perception of choosing between the “lesser of two evils” or feeling as though there’s no definitive “right choice” regardless of the decision made.

Tips to Manage Anxiety Caused by Politics

Unfortunately, it’s become harder and harder to avoid politics in some capacity in daily life, as interpersonal relationships are often impacted by political views. Luckily, there are things you can do to help calm and manage feelings of anxiety around politics, including:

Manage your media intake

Sometimes this can feel easier said than done. But managing the amount of media you ingest on a daily basis can do wonders for overall mental health. This can include limiting screen time, only watching a certain amount of news each day/night, or only reading so many news articles. By doing this, you can make sure you’re not getting information overload.

Control what you can

Taking control can mean many things. It could mean choosing reliable sources of information and focusing on credible news outlets that provide balanced and accurate reporting. It could also mean setting boundaries in conversations about politics, especially if discussing sensitive or divisive topics with others heightens your anxiety. You could redirect conversations or politely excuse yourself from certain situations if necessary.

For others, taking control means getting involved in local government or a local cause. This can help someone with political anxiety feel more in charge and confident about what the future holds for them.

Process your thoughts and emotions

Incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine can help you ground yourself and manage anxiety. This might include deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness-based activities like yoga. You could also journal about specific events or thoughts or talk to those around you who welcome an open political dialogue.

Another important aspect here is prioritizing self-care activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction. Take breaks to engage in activities you enjoy, such as spending time outdoors, reading, listening to music, or spending time with loved ones.

Gain perspective

Amidst the constant barrage of political news and discussions, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Taking breaks from politics and immersing yourself in completely unrelated activities can offer a fresh perspective. Spend time with friends, enjoy a meal at your favorite diner, or go out into nature. By stepping away from the political noise, you can recalibrate your mind and gain valuable perspective.

If anxiety related to politics significantly impacts your daily functioning or well-being, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to explore how therapy can help you navigate and manage your concerns.

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