July 26, 2016

5 Tips on how to keep your cool during an election year

I will be the first to admit that presidential election years aren’t my favorite.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the opinions flying around and it’s impossible to ignore the political messaging that floods us from every angle. The promises of each candidate get bigger and bigger, their claims get more outlandish, and the mudslinging just never stops!

The goal of an election year is to persuade us to pick a side, so the rhetoric is bumped up and language is selected to make us feel something, whether it’s anger, injustice, a sense of belonging, or even hope. It’s the Superbowl of politics—the faceoff of two heavy weights, and the battle can get messy.

Before your blood starts to boil and you find yourself in a shouting match with the TV, consider that there are ways to still engage in political discourse without letting it take over your life.

  1. Limit your news intake/social media exposure.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter become an endless rabbit hole of information we willingly fall into. It is our job to exercise self-control when it comes to our social media use. If you are having a hard time staying disconnected, uninstall specific apps on your phone or power down your phone a couple of hours before bed. Even pickup a new habit like reading a book, instead of browsing web news. If you let social media in too much, it can and will interfere with your mental health and sense of focus.

  1. Unfollow people who only post about politics.

This one is really important, because we need to control what information we are consistently exposed to. If what we are reading on a daily basis invokes feelings of anger, injustice, spite or rage, we will eventually internalize those feelings and start displaying them.

Know your limits and give yourself the freedom to click “unfollow” if you notice your blood pressure starting to rise when a friend shares another inflammatory political post. You don’t need to consume everything just because it’s out there. Take some responsibility for your mood and ensure you’re not overindulging in things that stir up anger or dissention in your heart.

  1. Avoid using social media as a venting tool.

People rarely, if ever, take to social media to have their opinion changed about something. If you are using it as a platform to shout your opinions, you may want to consider how your audience will benefit from what you are sharing.

Also, the same rule of thumb applies to online conversations as texting. What you wouldn’t say to a person’s face, you shouldn’t say to them online. While it’s easy to let our words run away from us, it shows restraint and wisdom not to engage in personal attacks or harsh criticism.

I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t have an opinion about political matters, but we should try our hardest to keep our lives, and social media feeds balanced. If that means posting a few more cute baby pictures— you’ve already made the world a better place.

  1. Get outside for a change of perspective.

The great outdoors presses a reset button in our souls. Maybe you’re not able to hike a mountain, but you can still go for a walk in the evening around your neighborhood or go for a quick bike ride. Get off the couch and get moving! It will give your mind a break from the hamster wheel of the 24-hour news cycle and refresh your senses.

As humans, I think it’s also a healthy reminder that we are ultimately not the ones in control. The grandeur and beauty of nature reminds us of this fact. It humbles us and gives us some perspective on our place in the world.

  1. Don’t give up!

This one’s really important as the political screaming matches and picking sides can make us want to wash our hands of the political process entirely. Whatever your ideological leaning, what I always find true is that good things don’t happen when we sit on our hands and refuse to work in the world. Engagement is always the best strategy for change. And while the candidates on the ballot may not seem particularly appealing this year, it’s important to stay engaged in the system if you want it to change. Take courage, do your best with the information you have, and use these tips when you begin to feel weary of the elections climate we are in. It will be over soon enough!

To your excellence in staying calm,

Coach Greg