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Emotional tolls of Politics

Today is November 2nd, 2020 and tomorrow will change the history of the United States as we confront the results of the presidential election between President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden. Throughout the last year political messaging to voters has been riddled throughout the media; to the extent that you now can not access media without seeing information on current politics. As we approach the election tomorrow, we have heightened personal awareness of political implications in both broad and individualized contexts; which indicates personal meaning and emotional impact. One such feeling many of us may be experiencing is voter fatigue.


What is voter fatigue?

Voter fatigue is the feeling of discontentment and disengagement with voting. Voter fatigue can be triggered by overwhelming political media coverage, continued or heightened stress on the importance of voting, or lack of trust in candidates and/or voting processes.


Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the results no doubt will influence a person's emotional states. In order to mediate the impacts of politics within our daily life there are several things we should do for ourselves: stay informed, create safe boundaries, and practice self-care.


Staying informed:

Staying informed takes shapes in several ways. Certainly the informative goal is to know what is happening within politics and policy change; especially as it impacts ourselves and those around us. However, realistically politics are ever changing and can be confusing. The important thing to remember is you do not need to be an expert in politics but rather staying attuned to political changes to support your awareness. Being informed may motivate someone to be more politically active; such as, contacting politicians directly, engaging in protests or other forms of social/political action. Staying informed implies active participation with political discourses which necessitates creating safe boundaries for yourself.


Creating Safe Boundaries:

Setting boundaries is dependent on what an individual needs based on how contexts influence their well being; thus, boundaries are variable person to person!

Examples of setting political boundaries:


-Thoughtfully engaging in political conversations:

  • Do not try to change the other person’s mind; it is not about what is right or wrong it is about hearing the person.

  • End the conversation respectfully if you need to step away (i.e. “ I respect that we both have differing opinions we believe in”, “ thank you for sharing your views”, “I am glad we are politically aware, even if we are politically opposed in some areas”)

-Knowing when to unplug: Whether on social media or on the news, it is important to know when to disengage for political messages and stop viewing/participating in politics momentarily.

-Create a political action plan that you are comfortable with, using your own strengths to engage in politics. Some examples may be:

  • If you are active on social media: share information

  • Call or write to your local and federal

  • Have political conversations with people around you

  • Help support others who are politically active (i.e. volunteer, share political event information, help individuals access information on political events, help drive people to the voting polls).


Practice Self-care:

The activities that we engage in that refill our sense of well being is determinate on individual preferences. For instance, if you notice you are experiencing voter fatigue, engaging in an energizing self-care activity may be helpful; such as working out, getting more sleep, or trying something new. If you are experiencing heightened anxiety, calming self-care strategies may best support you; such as breathing exercises, mindful meditation, or watching your favorite movie/T.V. show.


Regardless of what tomorrow brings, and the future of American politics, you have some control in the ways you engage with politics more generally. If you are experiencing voter fatigue and/or other mental health concerns and can use the support of NAMI KDK we are here to help! We provide free services and programs to support, advocate, and educate on mental health conditions; and we are here for you!

Please contact our info-line for more information and resources for support at phone: (630) 896-6264 and email: info@namikdk.org


Resources:

Anxiety and Depression Association of American: “How to Respond to Political Worries”

https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/how-respond-political-worries


Calm Mediation:

www.calm.com


CDC Guidelines for safe voting procedures:

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/election-polling-locations.html


Four tips for navigating Voter Fatigue:

www.thegoodtrade.com/features/combatting-voter-apathy-and-political-fatigue


Illinois Online Voter Registration:

ova.elections.il.gov/


University of Michigan: Heath, “5 Ways to Manage Politically induced stress”

healthblog.uofmhealth.org/lifestyle/5-ways-to-manage-politically-induced-stress


Nonprofit Vote organization:

www.nonprofitvote.org


Polyas Definition of Voter Fatigue:

www.polyas.com/election-glossary/voter-fatigue


Psychology Today: “Seven Types of Self-Care Activities for Coping with Stress:

www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shyness-is-nice/201403/seven-types-self-care-activities-coping-stress


United State of America: voter registration and political information:

www.usa.gov/register-to-vote


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