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Mental Health

Keeping Calm in the Political Climate

The twenty-four-hour news cycle sucks. There’s no way around it, and you can’t ignore it. There are certain issues you might tune out, but at the end of the day, the decisions being made in Washington are still going to be important and impact our future. You have to pay attention, you have to know what’s going on.

This has always been true, in the past few years especially – really, since the 2016 election cycle began – it seems like a constant barrage of information, and almost none of it is good. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there are undeniable problems in the way our government is operating right now.

Keeping track of the details gets exhausting, and oftentimes, disheartening. This is especially true if you’re a person of color, a woman, a member of the LGBTQ community, a DACA recipient, someone with a disability, or even just have an extremely personal stake in a specific issue.

Take sexual assault, for instance. Sexual assault survivors have had to deal with a seemingly never-ending stream of frank discussion about sexual violence in the past year. This conversation is important. We have to talk about it. It’s great that light is finally being shed on experiences that have been kept quiet for so long.

It’s hard to hear about. For survivors, for people who know survivors, for women in general who are told their voices don’t matter. Sometimes everything feels so pressing and important that we can’t just check out of this, ignore it, let it continue without our voices.

However, when it comes to issues like this, sometimes you have to take a step back. Especially when it starts affecting your mental health. It’s okay to turn off the news notifications on your phone. It’s okay not to watch the news or listen to your political podcasts.

Take care of yourself first. The world is never going to change, and you can never help change it if you’re suffering through the day-to-day. This doesn’t just apply to sexual assault, but any issue that affects you or your loved ones personally. Take a breather. Don’t watch the news for a week. It’s fine, the world will still be here when you get back. Don’t feel obligated to have to watch every second of the news you can. No one can do that.

Don’t check out completely – the world needs people who care. You have to take care of yourself and your health first and foremost. Let your friends and allies take the brunt of an issue that you can’t handle, and try to do the same for them.

Stop checking your Twitter feed. Don’t start fights on Facebook. Don’t feel the need to argue with coworkers or relatives about politics. You can let some things go for your own sake, especially since a Facebook comment has never changed anyone’s mind about who they’re voting for. There are bigger and more important ways you can help.

Before you can help, you have to take care of yourself. Though that means that you might not be the most informed citizen in the world sometimes, you’ll be grateful for the reprieve, and you’re not a worse person for it. Just make sure that you don’t check out permanently, and that by taking time to take care of yourself, you can be that much more involved in the future.

Take everything in moderation, especially the news cycle. A short break can make all the difference.


Courtney Welu is a student at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities who studies English and theatre.
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