Resilience: Surviving Political Stress and Making a Difference
A failed insurrection to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Decisions from the Supreme Court undermining abortion rights, the EPA, and our ability to control gun violence. The impending climate crisis. A global pandemic. And more.
Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the state of politics in America? You are not alone.
Not only are many of us stressed by politics, but we must also cope with the state of the economy and world events (see box).
The good news is that we can take steps to manage stress. Coping with stress is all about resilience—our ability to bounce back after adversity, anxiety, or challenging situations.
This article offers a few coping strategies for ameliorating stress and building your resilience.
Make a Choice to Be Resilient. Building resilience is primarily an individual endeavor that requires persistent effort. Through decisions we make, we have an extraordinary capacity for personal growth and development.
Choosing resilience doesn’t mean the path will be straight or easy. Elevated stress is a normal reaction to today’s political climate and managing it can be a difficult challenge. We shouldn’t feel bad about ourselves or engage in victim blaming if, despite our best efforts, elevated stress persists.
Limit exposure to disturbing political news. We may find ourselves frequently, perhaps obsessively, checking the news.
Instead, being deliberate about when we consume news and avoiding news late in the day when we are typically ready to relax or sleep can help reduce stress.
Generate and Sustain Positive Emotions. This can be done by finding ways to give ourselves a burst of joy and pleasure such as spending time with other people, joining a class, listening to uplifting music, or starting a hobby.
Generating and sustaining positive emotions allows our brains to take a break from politics and other stressors. Building resilience this way works best when we find ways to experience positive emotions for at least moments each day.
Get Involved with Making Change. Feeling powerless to change things you care about deeply is stressful, and there are limits to what we can do by ourselves. Working with like-minded people to effect political and social change can significantly increase our impact and reduce our stress.
We can directly affect local issues by, for example, volunteering with our local political party (see shameless plug for volunteers below) or with community support organizations.
The two most important actions we can do politically are (1) running for office and becoming an elected agent of change and (2) voting in national, state, and local elections.
And don’t overlook the many excellent Sandoval County Democratic candidates on the ballot in November who urgently need our support.
Taking action on issues that matter gives us a voice and an opportunity to exert some influence over a situation.
Getting involved in activism makes us part of the solution to many of the political issues about which we are all intensely concerned.
I hope you will try some of these techniques to reduce stress. You may find yourself rewarded with an improved sense of wellbeing, wonderful new friends, and a better world for everyone.