Practical Tips for Preventing Political Burnout
Are you getting tired of talking about politics? Do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you see a political Facebook post or open Twitter? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of “action items” in your inbox daily? You are not alone. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed by the current political situation. We know that we have to stay politically engaged, but how can we if we are Just. Too. Tired?
How do we prevent political burnout?
Preventing political burnout requires reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed, since a constant state of overwhelm can lead to burnout. Focus on taking small actions that are realistic and manageable with your regular responsibilities, such as job(s), family, or school. Reducing political overwhelm emphasizes how to make political engagement a part of regular life that can be maintained. Here are our tips to help you reduce political overwhelm.
1. Keep up your current community involvement.
Do you already donate to or volunteer with a local organization? Great! You are already making an important contribution, so keep it up! Do you have thoughtful discussions about current events or policy issues with family, friends, or neighbors? Excellent! Engaging in political discourse (i.e., democratic discussion) is a hallmark of democracy. Keep on keeping on with your current community involvement.
2. Participate in political activities that fit into your regular routine.
Political engagement doesn't have to consume all of your free time or force you to make tradeoffs. To contribute to positive political change, it is vitally important that we all keep doing our jobs, caring for our families, and keeping up with our other responsibilities, while staying engaged. To do this over the long-haul, the focus needs to be on maintaining balance.
Can you read the news while you drink your coffee each morning? The act of regularly paying attention and staying reasonably informed is a very important part of political engagement. Perhaps you can spare an hour each month to attend a school board meeting? Participation in local civic activities on a regular basis is essential for a wholly engaged citizenry. The current political situation highlights the need for all of us to get and stay involved. Sustainable political engagement requires participating in ways that are manageable with your regular routine.
3. Turn off your technology.
Let’s be honest, some of us were pretty much addicted to social media and our smart phones prior to the current political situation, but now many more of us are glued to our gadgets. We’re consuming hours of news, social media commentary, videos, and more, thus increasing our risk of becoming overwhelmed. Additionally, excessive technology use may also impact other lifestyle habits, such as sleep, which can affect our ability to process information and handle stress.
Give yourself a much needed break and turn off your technology. Do something else that you enjoy, such as going outside, spending (non-political) time with family or friends, playing with your pet, or engaging in a hobby. Additionally, taking a break from consuming information may give you the space needed to actually process the information that you’ve already consumed, which can help reduce the risk of information overload that can lead to overwhelm. Check out tech-free activities and events, such as a Tech Detox Retreat, for a fun and supportive way to spend your tech time-off.
But what if I miss something?!
If you are afraid of missing something, don’t worry, you’ll be able to easily catch up when you return to your technology. “Old-school” sources of information, such as newspapers and magazines, are less stressful options if you must have updates on the day’s happenings. Thanks to news aggregator services that compile the day’s stories and organize headlines, catching up on the news is easy and convenient once you return to your technology.
Gloria Steinem noted, "Burnout is a way of telling you that your form of activism was perhaps not very full circle." Taking steps to reduce political overwhelm can help to prevent burnout. With so much at stake right now, we all need to take care of ourselves so that we can maintain long-term political engagement to move forward together.
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