1. RECOGNIZE THE VOLATILITY
We are living in the most contentious political times since the Civil War.
People literally wept — with sorrow or jubilation — after the last presidential election.
Polls show that most people would not want to date or even become friends with someone of the opposite political party. We need to recognize these are volatile times.
2. MAKE A PACT
This past Christmas had many people facing the family gathering with dread.
“They were actually dreading going home for the holidays because they knew their families were very opinionated when it comes to politics,” said Dr. Trisha Bailey, clinical psychologist in Wheeling.
She said it’s a good idea to make a pact beforehand with your spouse, partner or kids, not to discuss politics at the family gathering, and not to be pulled into a discussion by anyone else.
3.KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
If you’re in a group of friends or co-workers, proceed with sensitivity.
You may think you know them, but you might not know their political views.
4.STEP AWAY FROM THE SCREEN
If you find yourself becoming chronically cranky and agitated, take a break from the input.
Choose a home improvement or cooking show rather than your daily dose of cable news filled with heated political rhetoric.
“I think it reaches a point where it becomes too intense, too volatile,” said Dr. John McFadden, clinical psychologist at Wheeling Hospital. “And quite simply, all remotes have an ‘off button.”
5. VALUE YOUR HEALTH
Doctors say the political fighting is literally making people sick.
They say it manifests itself in high blood pressure, headaches and gastric issues.
“Some people have told me they’ve watched the news for hours, and then have trouble sleeping,” said Dr. McFadden.
“It’s taking a toll on people’s physical and mental health,” agreed Dr. Trisha Bailey.
6. SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE ANTI-SOCIAL
Recognize that social media is often where angry people live — it’s easy to get pulled in.
Just remember that your snaps, posts and tweets can brand you forever, and can deeply offend people — and other’s people comments can have the same effect on you.
“So if it means you have to close down your Facebook account, go ahead and do it!” said Dr. Bailey.
“You can un-friend people,” says Jenna Dompa, school counselor at Central Elementary in Moundsville. “You can make your profile private. You don’t have to accept friends you don’t know.”
7. WATCH YOUR WORDS
You don’t have to say “He’s a buffoon,” or “She should be in prison.”
You can say “He’s not my cup of tea,” or “I disagree with her philosophy,”
8. DON’T JUDGE THE PERSON BY THEIR POLITICS
He might like the politician you dislike, but he could still turn out to be a good friend, doctor, salesman or club member.
9. CHOOSE ONE GOOD THING
You may not like that office-holder’s stance on the issues, but like your mother told you, it’s better to say something good about someone.
Surely you can find something you like, even if it’s his wife’s clothing designer.
In the end, we all get one vote. Don’t squander it.
You don’t have to bellow, swear, interrupt, Tweet, post, snap or text. You can make your voice heard where it matters the most–at the polls.
And still treat your fellow human beings with respect in the meantime.