Political stress is no laughing matter.
Politics is important, but can it ever be draining on both your physical and mental state? If you’re an avid reader of this site, then chances are you’re politically active or follow politics. You’re immersed in the happenings of your country or the world itself, and no matter what you believe, everything feels like it’s getting worse.
It can have an impact on your mental health, especially on the younger crowd. The youth have to worry about their careers, their purpose in life, and their futures in uncertain times. From political unrest to environmental catastrophes, there’s a lot to be concerned about, and it can have an impact on your own personal health through stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Some stress levels are good. Stress gives you an incentive to want to make a change. For example, if you own a business, climate change may be an incentive to make your business green. But in the political world, not only can you feel an overload of stress, there’s a lot you’re unable to change. You can vote and make your voice heard, but you’re just one out of many, and the worries about the future may overwhelm you.
There are many reasons to feel anxious about politics. If there’s a candidate running for office who may take your rights away, you’re always following the election and are worried that they may win. You may feel anxious about the future of your country, especially when you read the news.
Or, you may feel anxious discussing politics. If you have a family dinner, or your boss says something you find reprehensible politically, you may feel anxiety, and it can take over your life.
Politics can definitely make you depressed. There’s a lot of bad going on in the world, even if there are changes for the better. If you’re an extremely empathetic person, you may feel depression over people less fortunate than you who are suffering. This depression can make it difficult for you to live your own life and make a change.
Politics Can Keep You Up
The stress, anxiety, or depression over politics can keep you up. You may be on your phone in a heated discussion when you’re about to go to bed, which can delay sleep even further. Your anxiety can keep you up at night, too.
Not getting enough sleep may intensify the emotions you feel, and it can prevent you from focusing.
So, What Can You Do?
If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed over politics, it can be a tricky tightrope to walk. Some may tell you that you should avoid politics altogether, but you want to be informed and try to make a change, and avoiding things that could affect you and the people you love. So, how can you stay informed, active, but also avoid the stress? Here’s how:
There’s No Shame in Looking After Your Own Mental Health
First, acknowledge that there is no shame in trying to take care of yourself first. There may be a little bit of understandable guilt from feeling depressed over politics. If you’re depressed over a marginalized group getting affected by a policy change, but you’re not a part of that group, you may think that your depression matters less.
However, you can take care of your depression and fight for those who don’t have a voice. You just have to acknowledge your mental health along the way.
Inform Yourself in a Quality, not Quantity, Way
You should be informed, but thanks to smartphones, we’re informed all the time, and many of us are informed through sources that aren’t so good. Hearing everyone’s political commentary on Facebook or Twitter may be a little counterproductive, as it’s either preaching to the choir, or you disagree and spend your time in an argument that goes nowhere.
Instead of social media, get your news from sources you trust, and dedicate some time to looking at them.
Choose Your Battles
Expressing your political beliefs and debating them can change minds and get your point across, but many of us don’t pick our battles. Arguing with a racist family member, for example, is just going to make you angry and you’re not changing their mind. Arguing with a troll on the Internet is just going to rile you up. Before you pick your political battles, make sure they are productive.
It’s Okay to Take a Break
If you need to take a step back and take care of yourself, remember that there is no shame in helping yourself. You aren’t going to be able to fight the power if you’re too depressed to do so. Take some time to practice mindfulness, meditation, and other methods to fight back against your mental health woes.
Again, no matter the cause of your depression, stress, or anxiety, there’s no shame in seeking help from a therapist. A therapist can help you make sense of why you’re feeling the way you do, and give you ways to treat yourself. This is especially important if you want to strike that balance between being politically informed and active, and being able to take care of your own mental health.
One way you can seek help is through online therapy. A therapist online can help you by giving you advice as you’re out on the streets protesting, and you can connect with a therapist who shares your beliefs. Online therapy is also good for the people who cannot leave their house, and it works wonders for the youth who may have schedules that are inconsistent.
Politics and mental health are two concepts that will clash, and it’s important to be mindful of your mental health as you try to change the world. Fight for people’s rights, but also fight for your own right to have peace of mind and the ability to get out of your bed. Good luck!
Article by Marie Miguel
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.