Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
Politics can be a very stressful topic. With so much negativity, accusations, and misinformation on the news and social media, it’s no wonder that people get burnt out and just want to tune it all out! Pair this with everything else going on in the world and it’s almost too much to handle. However, I got out to cast my vote in the latest runoff election and can say that this made me feel a little more in control. I felt I did my part in helping make our world a better place. It lifted my spirits and gave me something to look forward to and feel good about. I know it sounds weird, but I feel like voting improved my mood and outlook for the future.
It seems like no matter where we go, what we watch, or who we speak to, it’s tough to avoid political discussions. And as we make our way through this election year, it’s hard not to notice that our political climate is extremely hostile. Whether it’s watching the news or scrolling through social media, you’ve likely been bombarded with opinions on why you should support this policy or hate that candidate.
It’s extremely overwhelming and can leave you feeling discouraged and helpless. Fortunately, you can do something good for your community and mental health during these stressful times.
You can vote!
Our licensed psychologists and therapists in Tampa recognize that, while constant negative political exposure can negatively affect your mental health, voting can have the opposite effect on one’s mind and well-being.
Casting Your Vote
While constant exposure to politics and politicians may not be the best for you, getting involved in certain ways, such as voting, has been linked with positive mental health and general well-being. Research has shown that voting can help promote good mental health and, in turn, improve your physical health. However, some might benefit from voting more than others.
An October 2018 article on theievoice.com quotes Lynn Sanders, Ph.D., associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia. “When you believe you’re doing something that could make your life better, that’s where the psychological benefits come in, and all of the additional physical benefits attributed to voting are connected to those mental health benefits.”
Voting can lead to feelings of empowerment and accomplishment. It can make many feel as if their voices are being heard and what they want and need matter. For others, it can even help lower stress. And for parents, voting can set a positive example for children.
Marc Zimmerman, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor at the University of Michigan, is quoted in an article on ahchealthenews.com. “Parents don’t realize that, even though kids can’t vote, they can learn about the voting process and learn about how their parents think about different issues.”
So, whether you’re voting Republican, Democrat, or other party, doing your part by showing up at the polls can lead to personal happiness and a more positive outlook.
What Else Can You Do?
In some cases, voting may not be enough to ease your mind. Here are some tips to help you take care of yourself if you’re having trouble tuning out all of the noise:
- You can stay informed about what’s happening in the country without constantly reading or watching the news. Set aside a limited amount of time to get your information. An hour or so in the morning or evening should do.
- We all see that occasional post or comment on social media that we disagree with, and sometimes it’s difficult not to respond to it. It’s best to find other ways to get involved rather than arguing with a friend or relative on Facebook or Twitter. Donating your time to helping people in your community register to vote, for example, can be a great way to break away from social media.
- Unfortunately, when we’re stressed, self-care is sometimes the last thing we think about. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat right, and do some physical activity. A simple walk at the park or in your neighborhood can help. You can also give yourself a break from the chaos of politics by reading a good book, listening to some music, or taking up a hobby.
- Find a support system by talking to someone you can confide in like a relative, close friend, or therapist. Asking for support from someone you trust can alleviate stress brought on by what’s happening on Capitol Hill.
Our Vote’s for You!
Our licensed psychologists and therapists understand how challenging the world can be, especially during an election year. We’re here to help you! If you’re feeling overwhelmed or helpless, know that you can talk to us about anything that’s bothering you. All you have to do is schedule your session.
In addition to providing ongoing sessions via telehealth, we’re also offering a limited number of telehealth evaluations for all ages. Feel free to schedule your 10-minute consultation with us here.