I’m the type of person who is EXTREMELY interested in politics. I know, it’s a bit strange and somewhat of a rarity in terms of people my age. Before each and every election, I research local and national candidates (I’ve even campaigned for some back in the day when my kids didn’t dictate every single minute of my life) and love putting my feet up and watching election results roll in. But all of the arguing and combativeness that politics create? NO THANK YOU. Negative political rhetoric has always stressed me out, and our current national political divide has given me legitimate anxiety—and I know I’m not the only one. So I reached out to friends and family to check in with them to gather tips for staying sane in our politically heated climate.
First off, breathe.
Politicians often make decisions that can make or break families, and for moms the anxiety of not feeling in control is REAL. But instead of hiding your head in the sand, roll out a towel, pour yourself a tropical drink and breathe. Download the headspace app and spend some time practicing deep breathing or lace up your shoes and get out into the fresh air. Taking deep, cleansing breaths will help right your mind and body.
Next, figure out what issues are important to you.
With 24 hour news coverage, we are bombarded with breaking political news and it can get extremely overwhelming. But instead of emotionally reacting to every single news update, think about what topics are most important and relevant to you. As a mom and former teacher and school administrator, gun violence in schools is a top priority. So I connect with groups that share my passions and viewpoints such as Illinois Citizens Ignited and Moms Demand Action. By joining up with like-minded individuals and working on ways to make schools safer for students and teachers, I feel empowered instead of being stressed and afraid. Focusing on 1-2 issues I care deeply about helps me keep my eyes on the prize and not feel so overwhelmed with all of the political news stories.
Act instead of being paralyzed by fear.
While it may sound appealing to ignore all of the scary news that is going on and instead wait for others to speak up for you, it’s not going to get you anywhere.. So by all means, take the time to finger paint with your kids, cuddle your pets, meet up with your book club. Once you are refreshed, figure out how you want to make your voice heard. Maybe you will attend an open house candidate forum to ask questions. Maybe you will make a donation towards an organization or candidate that you support. You might even feel like staking a political sign in your front yard. But the most important thing that you MUST do is VOTE. No matter how minor the election or frustrating and tiresome political races can be—VOTE, VOTE, VOTE.
Learn how to respectfully speak up.
I hesitated in writing this article because I have always been taught to avoid controversial subjects such as religion and politics because they are polarizing. Well, after marrying someone who is a different religion than me and in turn learning all about his family’s culture (and their delicious matzo ball soup), I have learned that by respectfully discussing our differences, we learn and gain the absolute most. Let’s be honest. In this politically heated climate, people are so incredibly divided. But if we all took a moment to have a cup of coffee with someone who has different views than us and vow to actually LISTEN to each other instead of fight and argue, we might be able to meet in the middle in some instances. And if your conversations are simply too incredibly polarizing, don’t think of it as a waste of time. Think of it as a way to add some much needed civility and respect to our society. We can always agree to disagree.