Did you notice the recent political uncertainty impacting your mental health? If you did, chances are you are not alone. With constant changes in the news leading to big consequences on our day to day lives, most people have had UK politics on the forefront of their minds and conversations lately. Especially with a new Prime Minister now after going through a recent upheaval less than 2 months ago. It’s a lot to digest and make sense of, notably during an already scary time with the ongoing energy crisis.
As social beings we tend to feel comfortable with familiarity as this is known to us and has no potential to disrupt our lives. Uncertainty can bring about change which is unfamiliar and in turn often uncomfortable. Political uncertainty can often be the source of discomfort you may or may not have noticed lately. Here are some ways you may notice it impacting your mental health:
Stress and anxiety– political changes and uncertainty is known to increase stress and anxiety amongst many people. This can be for a number of reasons- most likely because of changes most significant to you or which may have the biggest consequences to your day to day life. That’s okay! These are big changes and the uncertainty of it all can be scary!
Conflict in relationships– some people might notice themselves feeling more irritable which can lead to conflict or arguments in relationships with friends, family members or even work colleagues. This can be furthered from differences in political opinions and discomfort around how to hold a conversation with someone who shares different views to you. Again this is natural and the sheer level of turbulence recently will likely have spiked these conflicting views further.
You spend a lot of time following the news/social media– you may find yourself spending a lot more time watching/reading the news or on social media than usual. This is expected considering the constant changes and big eye-catching headlines, remember it is the media’s job to draw you in to read their content, any opportunity to create anxiety in the public is going to be broadcast everywhere.
Ways to manage:
Self-care– it’s important to focus on looking after yourself during times of uncertainty and chaos. A way to do this may be to ‘find the certainty within the uncertainties’. This could be finding consistency within a lot of change.
A problem shared is a problem halved– We can feel put off sharing our political views in fear of judgements or fear of having to “know enough” to have an opinion on it all. This is not the case at all. In fact a lot of people share this view and end up bottling up their political views because of it. Talk to those around you- it’s likely that those close to you may be in the same boat and share the same worries as you.
That old phrase ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ has stuck around for a reason! Research by AgeUK (2020) has shown over a third of people (36%) who share their worries feel brighter after sharing, 26% feel relief and 8% actually feel as though the problem is no longer there after sharing.
Remember it’s okay to have different political views to those around you. We have all had different experiences in life which will impact our views and hopes for the future. Ways to manage this can include validation, respecting the other person’s perspective and knowing you are allowed to feel differently to others. E.g. saying “I can see why you might think that, but for me it’s different because ….”
Limit your time on the news/social media– if you find this is taking over, start by being aware and monitoring how long you actually spend reading/watching the news or social media. Once you have a rough idea, just reflect on this. Are you happy with this? Does it feel like a healthy amount? Is it starting to eat into other things? How is it making you feel?
You may want to limit your time e.g. set a time from 8-8:30 to catch up on any changes. Avoiding the news and social media before going to bed can also be helpful to avoid any increase in anxiety/stress impacting your sleep.
Research obtained by AgeUK: