We can choose how to respond to the noise … or turn the volume off

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Never before have we been subjected to more emotional stress.

For more than eight months, COVID-19 has dominated our lives. We’ve gained weight, lost wages and hope. We take one step forward in the recovery plan, only to be knocked back two steps by new outbreaks and daily updates that are becoming all too familiar.

Politics has only made us more despondent. Never has there been so hatred spewed by both sides. We don’t debate legitimate issues. We yell. We cuss. We threaten violence. Politics has affected our mental and physical health and it’s cost us friendships.

You can’t escape the noise. Hate-filled commercials are being played during episodes of children’s cupcake baking contests. We can’t watch professional sports without being reminded of everything that divides us, not what joins us.

It’s become so divisive more people were interested in a fly that landed on Vice President Mike Pence’s head during last week’s debate with Kamala Harris than what was being said.

So, what are you supposed to do?

“Life throws a lot our way, including presidential debates, political rifts within families, fender benders, difficult dynamics with your boss/employees, migraines, and more,” said Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “We cannot control all of those things that may come our way, but we can do things to protect ourselves by paying more attention to how we react to them.”

Sandler uses a technique called positive reframing to help turn negativity into a more plausible mindset.

Pastor Charles Swindoll said life is 10% of what happens and 90% how you react to a situation. If we are better able to change our reaction, it could relieve a lot of the stress in our lives.

There are other steps to reduce our stress created by a pandemic and politics, like:

Practice gratitude. Make it a point to do something every day to escape the fear and bickering. Go hit golf balls. Turn off the television and read a book. Take a walk. Take your grandchild to the park. Go fishing. Just slow down and enjoy the moment.

Express compassion. Make choices to be a better person. Don’t follow old emotional routines. Take your mind off autopilot and re-examine your beliefs. Pick up the phone and call an old friend or relative. Never have we been so starved to reconnect personal connections of the people we care about.

Set an intention. Take the time to listen to an opposing idea. Even in this toxic political climate, it’s possible to be civil while agreeing to not to agree. You don’t have to like their ideas, but have the consideration to listen. You then put it on them to act with the same respect.

Connect with your purpose. Don’t be distracted by the controversies, frustrations and anger of our time. Don’t let outside influences push you off track on what makes you happy. Be ready to share your happiness and knowledge with others without being lulled into conversations that serve no purpose.

Live mindfully. When we stop going through the motions, like rehashing the same talking points for both political parties, we can re-engage our thought processes. Focus on each day as it comes, and make the best of each day.

“When people experience difficult times like we as a country are now, it’s important to be purposeful in seeking solutions and beneficial ways to responded, rather than react,” Sandler said. “Climates like we have now are going to exist no matter how we react to them, but when we take a healthy and mindful approach to dealing with it, we will can not only survive, but we can thrive.”

Given to our own devices, we are committed to prosper, not just survive. Sometimes we forget that. We can smile, even when our faces are hidden behind masks. We just have to choose to be happy, even in our current tumultuous environment.

Have a good day!

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