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Coping With Political Stress and Conflict

It’s politics season. Some people love it, some people loathe it and chances are those people often collide. For those who love it the constant media coverage, social media debates, and discussions are enjoyable and often invigorating. For those who loathe it, it can be stressful, hurtful, and exhausting. Whether you agree with candidates, fear candidates, or just don’t care about the candidates your approach to the season will be different and it can be especially difficult to deal with the approach of others. Some people are very outspoken about it on social media or even in person. It is in every commercial break on television and the radio, and the news can’t cover enough of it. Basically there is no escape from the information in general, and then the debate that follows. For people that don’t like conflict on top of not being as enthusiastic about politics, this leads to a perfect storm of discomfort. So how can you deal with the stress that the political storm and conflict bring?

  • Distract Yourself: it can be very difficult to remove yourself from the onslaught of political information, so distracting yourself from the emotions it may trigger as well as the information when possible is vital. Watch a movie with no commercials. Go outside. Play with your kids. Do anything that you enjoy that will take your mind off of the negative thoughts and take you away from the information over load.
  • Don’t Engage: this is especially important in social media, but also matters in person. If someone tries to draw you into a heated political debate, do not engage. Do not allow them to steam roll you or drag you into a conversation that you are not comfortable with. Tell them that you do not want to discuss it, change the topic, walk away, block them on social media, or do whatever you have to do to not engage. If you want to share your political opinion, it is guaranteed that you will have people who disagree and want to engage you in a debate. Be prepared for their responses and know that you do not have to engage. You can ignore or even block or delete them if they are online.
  • Limit or Filter Social Media: social media tends to take away people’s filters. Their opinions and responses are stronger and less mindful of others. During times of political stress, these can be overwhelming. Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media can reduce this. If that is not possible or something that you want to do, then setting filters or blocking and hiding people that cause the stress is another good option. Also, limit putting your opinion out there if you do not want a response that may trigger you or start conflict.
  • Rationalize: when fears overwhelm you due to assumptions about what a candidate stands for or will do, rationalize. Take the emotions away and look at the facts. Research how the government works, where power really exists, and what candidate’s plans really are. Emotions are heightened and information gets skewed. Remember this and remember your own logic, this will reduce the overwhelming emotions.
  • Change the Topic: simple enough. If the news talks about politics, change the channel. If friends or family are talking about politics, change the subject. If Facebook is littered with posts, do something else. This might not always go over well, but if done politely and respectfully, it is a successful tool in cluing people in that you are uncomfortable and preventing yourself from becoming overwhelmed.
  • Make a No Politics Zone With Friends and Family: shout it from the rooftops and make it crystal clear with friends and family that you do not discuss politics, especially if you know they have differing view points and you do not want to engage in a debate. If it is clear from the start that this is a topic you are not going to engage in, it limits if not eliminates the chances of them bringing it up and the topics or conflicts that are stressing you coming up.
  • Relax and Be Mindful: if these topics are unavoidable and cause you stress, take some time to shut out the outside world and relax. Engage in mindfulness activities that bring you to the present moment and remove you from fears of what will happen in the political contest and results. Engage in yoga, deep breathing, guided visualization, take a bath, or go for a walk with some headphones on. For more mindfulness activities go to: What is Mindfulness?

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