In a democracy, political animals reign supreme; recently, the 24-hour, non-stop, binge-inducing, all-consuming social media train ride that is barreling down the tracks to Election Day appears to be on a collision course with our lives—and no sign of a course correction is in sight.
In the era of personal technology, you might find it difficult to step away from the madness long enough to hit pause and take a breath. Between Trump’s tweets and Hillary’s email leaks, the phenomenon of FOMO is in full effect. Perhaps you find yourself fiercely loyal to one of the candidates, convinced that a loss for your team would bring about immediate Armageddon; or perhaps you are merely a political junkie, refreshing FiveThirtyEight.com twice a minute for the thrill of the chase.
No matter the reason, our brains are proficient at hyper-focusing on a single subject, shrinking our world down to a single frame—often at the expense of life around us. During the political season, please allow a gentle reminder to step away from time to time. Take a deep breath, separate from the digital screen, and allow yourself time to recalibrate. You might find solace in reading a good novel, dining out with friends, or spending a few minutes in meditation. No matter your source of escape, I would recommend a generous use of airplane mode!
For a small percentage of you, the anxiety of the political season may be turning from mildly annoying to downright distressing. Perhaps you find it impossible to step away from the noise; perhaps worries about the election and the implications for the future are distracting you from your work, keeping you from much-needed sleep, or preventing you from relaxing at the end of the day.
If this sounds familiar, you might need more treatment to help regain control of your life. Medications and psychotherapy can be very effective in helping you manage your worries. If you are concerned that your brain is spinning out of control, I would recommend talking to your doctor about pursuing further help. While hiding from the obnoxious bully of anxiety is often a tempting measure, we all know that building a wall is rarely a bright idea.