by Julia Scalise, DN, PhD
In the opening line of “A Tale of Two Cities”, Charles Dickens wrote:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of enlightenment, it was the age of foolishness”.
While published in 1859, this books's sentiment can apply as much today, more than 150 years later.
But Dickens' words apply uniquely to each individual, based on several factors:
Political Discord and Stress
Today we are living in an environment of political discord. This discord is creating a lot of stress. An escalating trend of anxiety, anger, and negative impact on the masses has resulted. It doesn't seem to matter which side (if any) one supports.
Relationships are also suffering. Marriages, family connections and friendships are often experiencing impact.
Wakefield Research conducted a survey of 1000 adults about the current political environment. What did they find? 1 in 10 couples broke up over political disagreements.
Political differences affect friendships, too. Dropping friends over political disagreements is not brand new. The following statistics were provided by The Washington Post:
Liberals were also more likely to drop a friend in real life over politics. Nearly a quarter, or 24 percent, of consistent liberals told Pew that they have stopped talking to or being friends with someone over politics, compared to 16 percent of consistent conservatives.”
Source and Impacts of Stress
All emotional turmoil causes stress, whether it stems from:
Stress, no matter the source, is one of the most detrimental causes of dis-ease and health issues. Stress impacts include:
There is not an organ or organ system that will not have a physiological consequence from stress. Stress caused by political discord is not excluded.
3 Ways to Mitigate the Impacts
Over 2 decades ago I was introduced to an optimal wellness plan, written by Dr. Andrew Weil. One of his suggestions was to limit exposure to the news.
At that time, I was a caregiver for my parents. My very early morning routine was to empty the dishwasher, make coffee, and turn on the TV to watch the news. Before I had my first sip of coffee, I’d hear about tragedies and murders that peppered the newscast.
So before even starting my day, bad or sad news set the tone. I took Dr. Weil’s advice and stopped listening to the news first thing in the morning. Fast forward to now and I still adhere to the same avoidance.
Try to limit your exposure first thing in the morning to the media. Media includes:
- Internet articles,
- social media exposure.
Let your day start more peacefully before contact with trending information. YOU set the tone for your day. Also, if you find it difficult to wind down at the end of your day, limit your exposure before bedtime.
Find a calming ritual that works for you, whether first thing in the morning, through your day, or in the evening. Some suggestions are:
- breathing therapy,
- a simple walk in nature if possible,
- massage therapy,
- reading a novel or poetry,
- listening to calming music, or
- any other practice that brings a sense of calm and peace to your spirit.
If your routine is watching TV or surfing the internet, consider watching a comedy channel or funny movie. Try listening to birds singing or watching and listening to ocean waves on YouTube at the start or end of your day.
In addition, nutrition that supports a healthy mental and physical body and calm enhancing supplements should also be a part of your plan.
Any stress management technique, therapy or tool that works for you will be beneficial.
Don’t react, Act. Studies show that when one feels empowered, there is an average 25% decrease in production of stress hormones. Yet, comparable increases in stress hormones occur when feeling hopeless or helpless.
So, if you are not happy with what is going on in the world, take action. Start a movement for something you are passionate about or are at odds over.
Either be the change you wish to see in the world or join with others that are already working on what upsets you most:
- lack of support services,
- health care,
I don’t condone any actions or behaviors that inflict violence or harm to anyone. However, actions that support positive change and a better world all need our support.
And if you wish to do even more than volunteer or start a movement on your own, tap into your creative juices. Invent and work towards sustainable solutions to the problems you see. Whether it’s inventing or creating a better mouse trap or a whole new mousetrap, just do it.
Action helps one feel empowered by working towards solutions versus adding to the problems. Your contribution can help with any dissatisfaction you feel with politicians, past, present or future.
If you find that the current political situation is creating overwhelming psychological and physiological issues for you, take back control.
- Decide to limit the time and amount of your exposure to the discord,
- Find and utilize stress management therapies and tools, and
- Take action to empower yourself to not feel hopeless and helpless.
These are just 3 ways to manage any detrimental emotions caused by the political discord that surrounds us all.
As for me, I am neither completely for nor against either side. There are issues I support and those that appall me. And because of my stance, I too have personally witnessed a distancing of many of my friends and followers on social media. I attribute that to the fact that my list of connections are split close to 50/50 on politics.
As difficult as it is to “stand alone”, I will continue to follow what is in alignment with my beliefs and integrity and respect the fact that others feel and believe differently.
Therefore, I choose to limit my exposure through the day until I feel calm, centered, and ready to receive it. I practice various stress management techniques for all areas of my life. And I work on specific issues near and dear to my heart so I can contribute to a solution versus adding to the problem. I hope you will consider doing the same.
Wishing you health, the strategy that works for you in this time of political discord, and living your best life.
If you find yourself feeling distressed about political discord, be aware that you are not alone! People are finding themselves anxious and angry, and many relationships are suffering.
Here are 3 suggestions for ways to reduce the impact of this discord:
- Limit Exposure to the news - especially first thing in the morning and before bedtime.
- Stress Management - Find a calming routine that works for you, and practice it regularly.
- Empowerment - Taking action is a good way to relieve stress, so put your energy into something that makes a positive change. No Politics required!