Wellness Wednesday: How to Handle Stressful Political Conversations

January 18, 2017

We live in a world that is quite literally polarized by politics right now. Regardless of country of origin, most of us feel the tension that surrounds us at all times now, particularly here in the United States of America. This led to many tense moments through the holidays, and with the inauguration of our 45th president coming up, anxiety, fear, and anger seem to be at an all-time high. This type of high tension can truly take its toll on your mental health, and can make even the most mundane social gathering seem fraught with danger.

That said, it doesn’t have to be this way.┬áIf you have a social gathering coming up with mixed company, or find yourself embroiled in a political conversation, here are five tips to keeping things on the lighter side:

Listen – It might sound incredibly easy, but sometimes when we’re inundated with social media, news stories, and fearful commentary from all sides, it can cause us to shut down our ability to listen. Conversation can only happen when both sides are listening, so listen to the point of view of the other person. Even if you don’t agree, we can only come together if we can hear and respect what the other side is saying.

Ask questions – Why does that person feel that way? How has the political environment affected them? Why do they believe what they believe? Where did they get their information? Continue to get the facts. We can all stand to learn from each other.

Stick to the facts – When faced with misinformation, kindly point out the facts and then back it up with valid sources of news and information. Conjecture and fantasy rule the news right now, and it’s important to stick to what’s real. It also keeps the conversation from devolving into a personal screaming match, which leads to the next point…

Keep it respectful – At times, you might have to agree to disagree, and you have the right to ask the other party to respect your opinion. This is incredibly important for family members, coworkers, and pretty much all members of society. We must all evolve above name calling, racial slurs, and other hate speech.

Remove yourself from any danger – If you start feeling attacked, you always have the right to exit the situation immediately. Your personal, physical, and mental health are too important.

Remember, your health is very important, and so are your rights to live happy, joyous, and free. If we can come together and start peacefully mending our miscommunication, we all win, but realize those steps might be slow to come. In the meantime, take care of yourself and each other. We will arrive at a more peaceful day at some point, and we will get there together a day at a time, with a little hope and a lot of grace.