Whatever your political persuasion, you may be feeling powerless in the run-up to the election. If so, you are far from alone. This has been an incredibly challenging year for so many pandemic-related reasons. When you factor in months of civil unrest and a looming presidential election, it can become overwhelming.
Identifying and accepting these feelings is important. From there, however, it is equally important to address the sense of helplessness. Throughout America’s long history, there have been many periods of strife and uncertainty. What has sustained its residents has been the ability to take action.
You might even say taking action is the antidote to helplessness.
The 2020 Social Landscape
Political division is not a new concept. Political division in the age of social media — in the midst of a global health crisis — is something no one is fully prepared to handle. This year is the classic example of uncharted territory and it’s bringing out some negative emotions, e.g.
- Anger: People don’t just disagree in 2020. They wage digital war. The online result is often a stressful and ugly affair.
- Despair: The 24/7 bombardment of notifications and updates can leave you feeling shell-shocked and hopeless.
- Confusion: Fake news, alternative facts, clickbait, and more — it can feel impossible to discern truth from fiction.
Everyone appears to be taking sides and relinquishing the ability to even hear each other. Social media algorithms feed us what we want to hear thus reinforcing the schisms. What can you do to challenge these unhealthy trends?
How to Take Action as an Antidote to Helplessness
The stakes and the powerlessness both feel particularly high during an election season. This ramps up the need for individual and collective action. Come to think of it, doing what’s within your power helps you anytime you’re feeling helpless. To follow are some suggestions to get that process started:
Monitor Your Content Intake
This is the foundation. Your news feed is designed to reinforce your beliefs. As a result, it’s easy to believe that “everyone” is thinking what you’re thinking. In reality, you have to step away from your devices in order to gain perspective. To form all your opinions based on what social media feeds you is to conform to a sort of hive mind. There is so much more complexity and nuance out there. Find it and you will experience an immediate decrease in helplessness.
Online discussions rapidly devolve into flame wars. People are so divided that they can’t even agree on enough basic truths to have a civil or productive conversation. Whether it’s face-to-face or via phone or video chat, connect offline. That is where our shared reality and our shared humanity can still thrive.
Participate in Direct Relief Efforts
No matter what your skillset or where you live, there is always so much work to be done. Get involved with those who are doing the daily work to help the vulnerable among us. Even better, start your own program. Keep practicing your mitigation tactics but don’t let that stop you from being part of the solution.
You need to be a strong version of yourself to navigate these tough times. Get into a dedicated daily regimen that involves:
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
- Exercise and activity
- Consistent sleep patterns
- Healthy eating habits
- Regular tech breaks
Sometimes, the Best Course of Action is Asking For Help
As stated above, none of us has dealt with a year like 2020. We’re all traveling without a roadmap and there’s no shame in seeking out some assistance. Working with an experienced therapist is an ideal way to regain stability in a time like this. I’m here to work through this season with you. Please read more about depression counseling and reach out for a consultation soon.