Mental Health and Politics; How to stay sane while still being informed

This is going to be a short post today – I just don’t have the energy to write a typical 2500+ words on mental health. I’m struggling today.

No matter what country you’re in, you’re likely to be inundated with politics during every 12-24 hour news cycle, and if you’re online it’s a constant stream of information. So, how do people with mental health issues stay sane and informed at the same time?

That’s a tricky situation to be in.

I can only speak about my own experiences with mental health and politics, but if you all would like to share your coping strategies, please comment! I could definitely use more coping strategies myself.

Politics and how it affects me daily

I’ve been following the Brett Kavanaugh mess on Twitter and watched the hearings all the way through. I was surprised at just how much it has negatively affected me. I’ve started holding onto all of that stress and it’s making me feel crazy. My neck and shoulders are incredibly tense, and it’s to the point of causing migraines. This happens every time I am overexposed to politics, no matter who is in office or what the latest scandal is.  I’m struggling with balance at the moment. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be limiting my political exposure to the bare minimum using the coping strategies below.

 

Coping Strategies that I use when I feel myself spiraling

  • Watch or read news only once per day: I have a bad habit of following news networks on Twitter, and spend my entire day obsessing over “Breaking News”. When I feel myself spiraling, I mute the networks and hashtags regarding anything political. If I need to know specifics, I can always go directly to the news source of my choice.
  • Give yourself a time limit: Set a timer on your phone and only read political articles or watch videos for a set amount of time. I typically read political pieces for 20-30 minutes per day. Sometimes this is enough time to read several articles, and sometimes it’s not enough to get through one. It’s all about balance.
  • Find something to do that makes you happy and recharges your batteries. If you’re crafty, make something! If you love to read, pick out a new book you’ve had your eye on. I like to sit and crochet for a little while in the evenings or read a book after Punky is in bed.
  • Unplug: Even if it’s just for a few hours, unplug yourself from your social media. This will give a respite from your friends, families, and followers’ comments on anything political. This is particularly useful if you have people on your friend lists who hold differing views to yours and like to challenge your views regularly.
  • Breathe: Take a walk, or even just sit with your eyes closed and breathe deeply for a few minutes to clear your head. This will help relieve a bit of stress and anxiety caused by politics.
  • Watch funny animal videos: Everyone has their own favorite animal. I happen to have a few favorites, but the videos that make me laugh the most are funny goat videos. I can’t help cracking up when I watch a video of a myotonic (fainting) goat fall over. It gives my brain a break from worrying about anything that I can’t solve myself.
  • Tell yourself it is ok to not be completely informed 100% of the time: We all need a break, especially from American and British politics. I know I do! You can take a break; all of those articles, videos, and stories will still be there when you’re ready to tackle them again.

 

Voting is Important

However, I do want to remind Americans living overseas that if you haven’t registered to vote in the midterms, now is the time!

Go to FVAP.gov to register and to find out how to receive your ballot. Registering is easy; you can submit your paperwork via the fax, mail, or email. You’ll receive instructions and addresses to send your registration documents. The deadline to send in your forms is 4 weeks before the election to make sure you have enough time to receive and send your ballots back. Get on it, people!

End Note

What are your coping strategies? Please share below! I’d love to learn more ways to keep from getting overwhelmed on a daily basis.