Coping with Politically-Related Stress
Protests against the confirmation of the outcome of the presidential election on January 6 gave rise to violence and insurrection against our democracy. We know that these events can be upsetting, frightening, and even traumatizing, especially as we continue to grapple with the effects of the global pandemic and racial injustice. These experiences are often made worse by re-witnessing the events as the media recurrently plays video of the insurection. It is expected and reasonable during moments such as this to experience a range of reactions, including feeling unsettled or anxious, and everyone's response will be unique. We further acknowledge the specific impact that this continuous racial, social and political trauma can have on people of color and we stand in solidarity in promoting and supporting justice, equity and healing on our campus and within our community.
Now, more than ever, it is important to acknowledge the fear and discomfort that we may be feeling, and to take time to help ourselves and the people around us. While the desire to stay informed and engaged is understandable, it is also important to attend to feelings of being overwhelmed and to prioritize self-care.
Counseling & Educational Support Services Staff
Recommendations & Resources
UNPLUG: Limit your consumption of social media and the 24-hour non-stop images. Take digital breaks. Consider scheduling a short block of time in the morning and one in the evening to catch up on news without checking for every new update during the day. Want more tips? Check out this video.
BE PRESENT: Use reflection to recognize your inner thoughts and feelings. Be curious and non-judgmental and give yourself permission to feel the way you do. Although avoiding can be useful, "stuffing" or ignoring strong emotions can have negative impacts.
- Consider practicing self-compassion as you work through challenging or uncertain times. Try some of these exercises compiled by Dr. Kristin Neff, a renowned researcher of self-compassion.
- Grab your phone and your earbuds and head outside for a guided mindful walk to de-stress.
- Listen to nature and soothing Tibetan singing bowls.
- Grounding strategies can help us get in touch with our bodies and surroundings in the present moment. Pause what you are doing and pay attention to what you can see, hear, smell, and touch in your environment.
- This Youtube channel offers introductory videos to mindfulness and guided meditations.
REFUEL: Focus on restoring yourself with rest and healthy food. Drink water and try to limit caffeine. Move a little every day. Take a walk; look at the sky; be in nature. Journal or meditate. Make art or watch funny videos. Read something fun.
- Sleep: Is your sleep schedule irregular? Are you sleeping more than you want to be? Are you having trouble falling asleep? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," you may benefit from these sleep hygiene tips and resources.
- Eating and Nutrition: For tips, guidelines, and health information, this is a great resource!
You can also check out the KUMC THRIVE Food Pantry.
- Exercise: Kirmayer Fitness Center has free Zoom classes. Check out these free online classes listed in a NYT article.
CONNECT: Studies show that connecting decrases stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Engage with supportive friends and allies. Talk about current issues, if needed, but be aware of when you're feeling overwhelmed. Not everyone will share your perspective, so it's OK to limit your topics and avoid heated conflict. Reach out to supportive services, including Counseling & Educational Support Services.
- Five Ways To Build Stronger Connections: 1) Write a letter; 2) Pick up the phone and call; 3) Ask meaningful quesions; 4) Answer questions with honesty; and 5) Connect via video
- Connect Virtually by a Zoom dance party, Netflix Party, virtual group workouts, peer support group (with topics for everyone), online book club, and online karaoke.
- Connect Spiritually: Spirituality can be one way to connect with yourself, others, nature, or a higher power(s). Consider participating in the KUMC Monday (8:30-9 AM) non-denominational spiritual gathering.
- Avoid Multitasking While Zooming: Even though it can be tempting to use more than one device at a time or check emails and respond to texts while Zooming, focusing on the content of the meeting will actually give your brain a break. Turn on your video and engage. You will get much more out of the experience.
DO SOMETHING: Channel what you're feeling into positive, meaningful activity. Be informed and proactive around issues that matter to you. Find ways to engage in your community through advocacy in ways that fit for you.
- Connect with your Values: Identify what is important to you using this online values card sort. Create a vision board.
- Lean on your Strengths: Knowing your strengths can help you address problems more effectively and engage in activities that generate confidence and purpose. Try taking the VIA Character Strengths Survey to identify your strongest traits.
- Do Something for Somone Else: Volunteer virtually anywhere, or through the United Way of Greater KC.