I don’t know about you but I’m finding my anxiety levels rising and negative thoughts running through my mind as we approach the general election this week. I don’t have all the answers but thought I would share a few thoughts on how we can respond to the political situation in a healthy way.
1. Recognise when you are catastrophising. If worst case scenarios are building in your mind about life after the election it may help to recognise this for what it is – our mind telling us a story about what COULD happen and trying to prepare us for the worst. In reality we don’t know what the future holds and it could end up being better than we feared. Regardless of the outcome of the election, some of the things we are worrying about might never happen and we can waste a lot of energy through this kind of thinking.
2. Focus on the here and now. Using mindfulness techniques can help you to focus on the here and now and help you not to get carried away into future scenarios. This can help calm us when we are anxious by instilling that we are “OK right now” and taking away the sense of threat. We can only live in the present and make the most of each moment.
3. Find hope. Focus on signs of hope around you – stories of people helping others, lives transformed, relationships mended. Spend time with the people you love. Focus on all that is good and right in this world. My supervisor has recommended a book to me called Active Hope – How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy. Sounds great to me!
4. Recognise what part you can play – it’s easy to feel helpless about a situation you have little power over, but we can all find ways to influence the world for the better, however small. The Serenity Prayer may help here. Whether you believe in God or not, I think this contains real wisdom:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”