With the General Election rapidly approaching, political discussions are popping up everywhere and tensions are running high. Regardless of your political stance, the chaos of politics – and the divisions it can cause between people – can sometimes get the better of all of us.
A survey done by Britain Thinks in April revealed the very real impact politics can have on people’s mental health. In the case of Brexit, within a sample size of more than 2,000 participants, 83% were sick of hearing about Brexit, and 64% thought it had a negative effect on their mental health. Rose Carter, a researcher for advocacy group Hope not Hate has said that the political climate has “completely changed the mood of the country”.
You should try to focus on happy and positive things in your life. They don’t have to be extraordinary things or achievements
As a person who also gets easily bogged down by politics, I have gathered a few tips I found useful to help me look after my wellbeing during election season.
Firstly, it is important that you set boundaries. Rather than obsessively checking your newsfeed for the latest election updates, schedule a time in your day to catch up on the news. It could be 30 minutes in the morning, or 15 minutes at night, or whenever works best for you. I like to call this my ‘worry time’ where I allow myself to dwell on all sorts of thoughts and feelings and that comes with politics. Outside of my ‘worry time’, however, I try to keep my mind off politics and remind myself that there is an allocated time for this. By setting time aside, this helps to not let my worries about politics interfere too much with my daily life.
You could volunteer for a cause that you believe in
You should try to focus on happy and positive things in your life. They don’t have to be extraordinary things or achievements. They can be simple, mundane things that you notice in each day. Maybe it’s the fact that the weather is unexpectedly nice today, or you finally made it on time to your lectures. Maybe it’s because you’re wearing your new and favourite shirt, or, if you are a cat person like me, you saw cute pictures of cats on the internet! Yes, sometimes politics might make it look as if the world is a bleak place, but the silver lining is always there in our daily life.
Feeling helpless at a time when the world of politics that seems beyond your control? Don’t despair! While politics doesn’t always go the way we want it to, there are still many other ways to get involved to make the most out of a potentially disappointing situation. You could volunteer for a cause that you believe in. For me, not only does volunteering give me a sense of purpose and direction, it also helps channel my frustrations into something meaningful.
Having the right people around you can make you feel less alone in your struggles
You could also try your best to help the people you come across every day, be it by holding the door open for the person behind you or helping someone who seems lost. Take comfort in knowing that you are doing your part in making the world a better place.
Make sure to spend time with your friends. Have a light-hearted conversation with the people you love. Meet up with them over a hot cup of coffee. It’s nice to be able to take your mind off politics for a while and chat about other things that are happening in your life. As they say, a burden shared is a burden halved. Having the right people around you can make you feel less alone in your struggles, especially when you know that they have your back.
At the end of the day, while we can’t fully control the election outcome, what we can do is to look after our own wellbeing. This way, we are equipping ourselves to better navigate the choppy waters of politics.