Anxiety in times of political turbulence

It is common to hear nowadays how politics can make us feel stressed out and anxious. In fact, the World Health Organization indicates that political turbulence is being an important source of anxiety for people in many regions around the globe.

The problem is not only how stress and anxiety can affect our own physical and mental health, but how anxiety caused by politics is affecting the overall health of societies, how it is increasing polarization and how it can weaken the ability to take the right action since it is one of the greatest veils that impede us to see things clearly, it encroaches upon our awareness.

Political turbulence can indeed make us feel depleted, having the impression that the world is somehow out of control and that we live in a perpetual cycle of outrage. However, we need to remember that the way we react and how we relate to what is happening around us is pretty much in our control. This is not to say that we are to disengage from reality, but rather to choose engaging -at the individual level- in a way that is more sustainable and productive.

In order to choose how to engage effectively we need to learn how to work with the stress and anxiety that politics can cause us. And there are some micro strategies to work with them, such as:

  • Unplug from social networks regularly.
  • Be selective but diverse with the sources of information we choose, with what we share and the words we select to express a point of view.
  • And perhaps, more importantly, when gripped by anxiety, make a pause and simply try to be aware of it and deconstruct it by mindfully observing how much of it is caused by some habitual way of thinking that drags us to see everything black and white, if we have a tendency to disqualify the positive and focus on the negative, if we generalize and jump into conclusions without having enough information, or maybe because we have an inclination to exaggerate and demand unrealistic expectations about a situation.

So as to effectively engage when there is turbulence, we need to step out of the storm and find a quiet center.