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Dr. J Thomas Smith

Source: Dr. J Thomas Smith / Radio One Houston

The Most Polarized Election Ever

The 2016 US presidential election will probably go down in history as one of the most polarizing ever. Most people have an opinion about the candidates and they are ready to share it with you, whether you want to hear it or not.

On the right, we have Donald Trump, an equal opportunity offender who says things that offend many people. On the left, we have Hillary Clinton whose history in politics present a litany of accusations that offend many more.  For many people, voting for either of them appears nightmarish and more still feel that it doesn’t matter which one of them is elected. They say that either way, the country loses.

Debates + Opinions = Stress

The incessant debates and opinions have caused tens of thousands of people to feel stressed out. The stress have them wanting a break from the hype and all forms of media.  Many, without adequate information, worry that they may vote for the wrong candidate.  Others express concern that the wrong candidate will end up winning the election.

Be Informed and Vote Early

With all the stress and drama, what do you do? Can you say “relax”?  But, before you get too relaxed, I suggest that you get sufficient information about the local, state and national candidates, then make a list of how you are going to vote on the referendums and the candidates.  The League of Women Voters in your area publishes a sample ballot with information on the candidates and the various referendums.  Vote early if possible.  Then, you can relax until election day.  What follows is 5 ways for you to reduce stress through Election Day.

Take a Break from Socia Media

Isolating yourself from social media is my number one suggestion.  Social media is inundated with articles, gossip, opinions, memes and cartoons about the election.  There are people arguing trying to convince each other that one candidate is better than the other.  None is convinced to change their position and everybody is stressed.

The ideal thing to do is to log out of Facebook, or whatever social media you follow, until after the election. In reality, nothing is gained by debating with anyone on Facebook.  Many people have lost friends and argued with family members because of the election.  You do not need the stress and you do not need the drama. It may also be a good idea to stop talking about it on the job, too.

Ain’t Nothing New About the News

Since the Federal Communications Commission eliminated the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, most news outlets have their particular agendas which very often results in biased reporting. If you are a news junkie that reads and absorbs the news like a sponge, you will inevitably get sucked into the hype. With the same agenda day after day, there is nothing new about the news.

Once you get clear on the issues and the candidates you will vote for, there is no need to continue watching the news and allowing yourself to be stirred up emotionally. If you get stressed by the news, turn it off.

Make Your Own Future Plans

Unfortunately, too many of us believe that our lives will change significantly based on who is sitting in the White House.  In case you missed the memo, you are in control of your life.  That won’t change whether Hillary or Donald wins.  You can help yourself much more than they can.  As an alternative to worrying and stressing about them, your planning your own future would make you better off.  At the very least, you are in charge of the process.

Have you examined ways that you can make improvements in your own life?  Have you thought of ways to increase your earnings?  Have you taken a look at how you can get in better physical shape? Concentrate on the positive things.  Focus on what you can do to make progress in life for you and those you love.  I am certain that you will feel much better focusing on you and yours rather than the two major presidential candidates.

Do Something That Pleases You Right Now

If you’ve been feeling down and stressed out this political season, take a time out.  Take a vacation and do something that you enjoy.  You could take up something new like CrossFit or Pilates to get physically active.  Perhaps you can consider starting an on-line or home base business to improve your finances.  What you give yourself to, gives itself to you.  If you give yourself to new interests, you will reap the benefits gained from taking your mind off the election and the benefits gained from your new interests.

Meditation Will Give You Peace of Mind

One of the better ways to eliminate the stress in your life is to meditate and clear your mind. As you become aware of your breathing, and learn to control your thoughts, you will have better control of your emotions.

Finally, if one is to maintain sanity, politics must be viewed with healthy skepticism. Do not allow yourself to believe that the people in power have total control over your life. They do not. You control your life and it is your decision from day-to-day to be happy and rise above the drama.

Campaign promises should not be taken literally. To illustrate, I paraphrase the humor of the late comedian Redd Foxx:  “I don’t promise you a chicken in every pot or a car in every garage. I promise you nothing. And if I am elected, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Absolutely nothing.”  Vote early. Take someone to the polls with you, then relax and enjoy this thing called life.

 J Thomas Smith is host of “Sunday Morning Live” on “The Real Sound of Htown” KMJQ/Majic 102.1 (9-11 cst). He is an attorneyauthorkeynote speaker and mental health consultant. Your comments are welcome at jtsmith@radio-one.com or jtsmith@worldfamousradio.com. Follow on Twitter @drjtsmith102 on facebook.com/jthomas.smith.12 and instagram.com/drjtsmith102.

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