Are Politics Destroying Your Health?

Right around December 30th, my liver started shouting at me. Normally, she is really quiet and just goes about her business no matter what I throw at her. Usually, we get along very well. Now, not unlike the many family relationships that were destroyed in 2020, she and I are having a hard time finding common ground. We are on the same page regarding mask wearing, virtual “education” and human rights, but after many, too many, years of being in total agreement on alcohol consumption, it seems we are at an impasse. “Enough,” she whispered in September like she usually does at summer’s end, and for the first time I ignored her. “Enough,” she said a little louder after Thanksgiving, and again, I pretended I couldn’t hear her above all the noise. And, finally, she yelled, which is totally unlike her, but not surprising considering the year we’ve had. “Seriously, enough!!!”

“Blame Brain,” I retorted, trying to dodge some of the responsibility. “She’s the one shouting, ‘Shut this shit down!’ every night. (Brain has always had a short fuse.) Why are you coming at me?”

But, Liver just wouldn’t let it go, and so, the seed was planted. I had guilt, thirst, and a nagging pain in my side, that I am almost sure was psychosomatic, but point taken. It was time to rein it in a bit, and so I did … for two whole, really long, days. Then, last Wednesday, the Capitol was attacked. The stress went up, Brain got pissed, and the newsfeed demanded something to numb the disbelief. Little by little, our country is becoming unrecognizable, and Chardonnay somehow makes this a little more bearable. This would be fine if once in a while we were faced with something anxiety provoking and needed to take the edge off. I don’t think Liver would have any problem with the occasional self-medicating, but the fact is, every day, no matter which side of the stupid, toxic, political fence you are on, (apparently, you have to be on one or the other as moderation is quickly becoming an quaint, archaic term) we are bombarded with dozens of reasons to self-soothe with whatever it is that makes us feel better in the short term. Why couldn’t long-distance running be mine??!!

I offer all this as a way to introduce the point of this post. I am struggling this year, and I do not have a good enough arm to throw stones. There is zero judgement coming at you from me if you have been drinking and eating more than you should. I’m as sick of judgement as I am of the President’s tweets, and that’s saying a lot.

These are intensely scary times. If you are comfortable staying home, you are likely afraid of getting sick. If you are a person who needs to get out, you might be scared of all the unprecedented restrictions to our freedoms and what this will mean moving forward. If you have children, in addition to flat out being sick of them, you may be terrified of what this past year means for their future. If all this has affected your income, your anxiety level is understandably through the roof. If some sweets and some booze make you feel a little better, and they aren’t a mental or physical problem for you, carry on. BUT, if you want to make changes, think your health demands you make changes, and you keep getting thwarted by the news, take control.

  1. Turn off the news. Unless knowing exactly what is going on at all times is positively affecting you, your family or your job, take a break.
  2. Get off social media. Algorithms are spoon-feeding you information you already agree with, literally adding fuel to your fire.
  3. Turn your focus inward. What is the motivation behind wanting to make changes to your behavior. Write these down, reflect upon them, keep them top of mind.
  4. Shut out the noise with quieter things you enjoy — a walk, a one-on-one non-political conversation with a friend, a comedy, music, etc.
  5. Make small, not big changes. These will have the most lasting effects.
  6. Be kinder to yourself. If you stumble or take a step back, (see last Wednesday) simply start over the next day without beating yourself up.

You are not responsible for the world, you are responsible for yourself. Make feeling well, not numb, a priority. This ship may or not be sinking, but you don’t have to go down with it.

At the moment this was published (11am on a Monday) Karen and Liver were getting along very well. Stay tuned.

 


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.

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