Staying politically informed is important for a wide range of people, from lawyers to homemakers. By staying informed, individuals can make informed choices at the polls and understand the issues that could directly impact their lives. However, in today’s political climate, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the news. Moreover, smartphones and social media have increased access to the news, which makes it difficult to sort through sources and to effectively keep track of stories. Increasingly, people need to become mindful of how they consume political news to ensure that they stay current with important topics while also maintaining their mental health. The following are some tips to keep in mind for finding this balance:
1. Choose how you want to consume the news.
People have different triggers, and they need to keep this in mind as they decide how to consume the news. For example, many people are sensitive to upsetting visuals or negative imagery. These people may find it difficult to watch the news on television or other video sources since they do not have control over the things they see and can end up being exposed to upsetting visuals quite frequently. People who are in this position may prefer news articles, podcasts, or radio. Other individuals may find themselves triggered by biased social media news sources. In this case, it is possible to install a plug-in that can help to de-politicize a feed. Then, you can set aside time to go directly to the preferred outlets. The decision of how to consume the news should be a carefully reasoned one.
2. Check in with yourself.
You should learn the signs of becoming overwhelmed by the news and regularly check in with yourself. If you begin to feel more cynical or even numb, that could be a sign that you are becoming overwhelmed. Another common sign is feeling tired even while well-rested. When people notice that they are starting to feel one of these ways, they should give themselves a break from the news and see if their mental health bounces back. In some cases, people may feel like they cannot actually take a break. If this happens, individuals should start to ask themselves why they feel such a drive to engage with the news and address the underlying issue, whether it is the urge to know everything is fine, boredom, or something else. Being mindful about your emotions and news consumption can enable you to maintain your mental health.
3. Pay close attention to self-care.
In political climates that are particularly stressful or that provoke anxiety, people may begin to let their self-care falter. However, doing so may leave them vulnerable to serious mental health repercussions. When people are feeling stressed, taking time for self-care is extremely important and can relieve much of the anxiety involved. At the baseline, individuals should ensure that they are eating regular meals and obtaining adequate sleep, as well as staying active. Beyond that, it’s important to spend time combatting anxiety. If someone feels overwhelmed, taking the time to catch up with a friend or to read a book is a great way to decompress. As mentioned before, it is critical to check in with yourself and to respond with compassion.
4. Let go when the news becomes overwhelming.
The world can quickly start to feel chaotic when people follow events too closely. They may begin to check the news frequently, which can provide an illusion of power, although it can actually affect their mental health. Ultimately, checking the news headlines compulsively does not change them or the outcome of these events. The world is unpredictable and scary things will remain so whether people find out about them when they happen or later on down the road. People need to learn how to accept unpredictability and to process the news with that same sort of understanding. Doing so will help to keep their emotions in check. Outrage, fear, and even complacency are all valid feelings when reading the news. However, these emotions will not alter what is happening in the world. No one is in control, and tuning out for a few hours or even an entire day will not change the way a situation unfolds.
5. Dedicate time to a specific cause.
People sometimes feel overwhelmed when watching the news because they experience compassion fatigue. Often, the news focuses on suffering around the world, whether it be political strife, natural disasters, or other causes. The urge to help is a deeply human one, although it can prove exhausting. People often start to feel overwhelmed by their desire to help in various ways. While it is impossible to address all of the issues on the news, people can focus on an issue that they feel strongly about to act on in the real world. Volunteering with a political campaign or a homeless shelter can enable people to feel as if they are making an impact and relieve at least some of the suffering they see in the news. Humans are inherently social beings, so fostering personal connections that relate to meaningful issues can provide a great way to gain fulfillment and achieve balance in their lives.