3 Things to Do
When Politics Make You Feel Anxious
Clinician post by Dr. Kyler Shumway
Postdoctoral Fellow, Deep Eddy Psychotherapy
Remember when politics were boring?
These days, they’re all we talk about. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be talking about how happy we feel or excited we are for the future.
The news constantly blasts reminders of how the world is falling apart. Social media tells us how X politician is terrible and how Y political party is ruining this nation. And so on, and so on, and so forth.
We are fed up with the endless dredge of stories on scandal and corruption. We are tired of seeing injustice and unfairness.
But most of all, many of us are simply terrified of what the future holds – especially those of us who feel marginalized, unheard, or otherwise belittled.
Here at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy, people are constantly sharing their nervousness and fears about politics with us. And, we know what it’s like; we feel it, too.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety related to politics, we recommend giving these three things a try:
Thing #1: Notice All the Feels
We are really good at noticing anxiety.
We feel shaky and sweaty. Our thoughts race and spiral into negativity. We try to distract ourselves, avoid, and numb out.
When our emotions are stirred up around politics, anxiety usually isn’t the only feeling that shows up. Sure, you might feel anxious about what you heard on the news or what you read on Twitter, but what else do you feel?
Take a moment to pause and notice the other feelings you might be experiencing with your anxiety:
When anxiety gets tangled up or confused with other emotions, it can be challenging to figure out what you really need.
If you feel angry, for example, you might need to express yourself. If you feel lonely, you might need to reach out to someone for support. Or, if you feel afraid for the future, you might need to redirect your focus to the present.
But, if you think it’s “just anxiety,” you might be neglecting your emotional needs.
To learn more about ways of meeting some of those emotional needs, check out our list of video resources!
Or, if you’d like to get individualized help, consider starting therapy with us! Contact us today to get started.
Thing #2: Set a Boundary
News and social media producers are motivated to attract viewers, maintain attention, and share updates about our political world. In order to do so, their content must be designed in a way that evokes emotion. This is why virtually every major televised news network has a “Breaking News” moment every fifteen minutes or so.
Significant news really doesn’t break that often.
We feel anxious about the news because it feels like things are constantly changing, chaotic, and out of our control. Publishers need the news to feel relevant, important, and game-changing; otherwise, you might change the channel. You are getting inundated with unimportant details, many of which are expressed in highly dramatized and exaggerated ways.
There are many ways to counteract this effect, but the simplest involves putting a limit on how often you access the news. Instead of checking Twitter three times a day, drop it down to one. Instead of watching the news on TV every evening, only watch it on the weekend.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Thing #3: Take Action
Your emotions aren’t something to change or suppress – we have feelings for a reason.
You might feel anxious because part of you wants to do something. To take action, make a difference, and have your voice heard.
The anxiety, then, is there to motivate you.
Often, when we allow our emotions to be present and act in ways that are consistent with how we feel inside, the feeling subsides. When it comes to politics, there is only so much we can control – if we vote, who we vote for, how and when we express our views. So, control what you can control, and let the universe take care of the rest.
Consider doing something practical with that motivation. Write a blog post, talk to a friend or therapist, go to a rally, and so forth.
Or, most importantly, vote.
Take time to add election dates to your calendar. Your input is invaluable to the community, of course, but voting will also help you convert that anxiety into something concrete and actionable.
BONUS THING: Get Professional Help
If you are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety about the political climate, let us help.
Here at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy, we are committed to helping the community of Austin find freedom from stress and worry because no one should suffer alone. If you are feeling overwhelmed, stuck, and unsure where to turn, we are here for you.
Contact us today to get started.
How does therapy for anxiety work at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy?
We try to make the process simple and straightforward.
First, contact us using this site so that our scheduling team can connect with you. Once an initial appointment is set, you will meet with one of the therapists at one of our conveniently located offices.
As a helpful reminder – make sure to show up early (about 15-20 minutes) to fill out any paperwork that wasn’t completed online.
The first session, called the “intake” appointment, is designed to help you and the therapist get to know one another, assess what might be going on, and develop a plan moving forward.
Therapy for anxiety will give you the chance to:
- Feel supported, heard, and understood
- Learn crucial skills for anxiety management
- Discover new aspects of yourself and your personality
- Let go of uncontrollable stressors
- Build a sense of confidence and self-awareness
- Begin your journey towards wellness
If you have questions or would like to hear more, please let us know! We would love to hear from you.