The Negative Impact of Political News on Mental Health – Anxiety and Stress Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket

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Negative Impact Political News on Mental Health - Stress and anxiety hypnotherapy ely

The Negative Impact of Political News on Mental Health – Anxiety and Stress Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket

It’s been a tumultuous few years in politics here in the UK, from Brexit through to Partygate and with all the other scandals, leaks and ministerial changes that have been happening. What happens in politics impacts upon us all, with the ripples from Westminster flowing into everything from employment, the economy, health, education and pretty much everything else in-between. There is no escaping it and it impacts upon all of us in some way or another, not least in our anxiety and stress levels.

With everything that has been going on, and the way it can have positive or adverse impacts upon us all, it can be very easy to start watching more and more news on TV and engaging in more and more political content through the many media channels out there. And aside from sport, there are very few other topics aside from politics that can cause such a level of debate, argument, falling out and disagreement between people.

And, of course, the ever changing news and constant flow of information can make politics almost addictive as you try and keep abreast of what is happening and the latest news. It can be the first thing you tune into when you get up in the morning, and the last thing you watch, read or listen to before sleep (and for some, it can even be something they check if they wake up in the middle of the night).

With all the negativity in politics and the general news, I’ve often advised clients who are struggling with anxiety, stress and worry to cut back for a bit. When your anxiety levels are heightened, it isn’t helpful to start or end your day with a dose of negativity and potential threat, usually about things you have no control over.

And now, some research has investigated the daily impact of politics upon your mental health and well-being.


The Impact of Daily Political News 

With the impact of politics felt by all of us in one way or another, it’s no wonder that there is so much interest in political news as it unfolds. The decisions and behaviour of politicians can be a stressor, particularly where it impacts upon you and your family. In addition, you may have antipathy towards a certain politician or policy, an affiliation with a particular party or simply find that what is going on pushes against your sense of morality and your own convictions in ways that increase your emotional levels.

The research (Ford, Feinberg, Thai, Gatchpazian and Lassetter, 2020), was designed to investigate how politics can affect your psychological and physical well-being on a day to day basis. Rather than assessing the impact of a single event (such as an election), this research considered the stress of daily political events and of the stream of events that continue on a steady basis. To do this, they captured people’s emotional reactions to day-to-day political events, daily well-being, motivation to take political action, and the use of any emotional regulation they use to help with protection from the toll of day to day politics.

The results demonstrated that daily political events consistently evoke negative emotional reactions in people. Further, feeling more negative about politics corresponded with lower levels of daily psychological and physical well-being.

Overall, this research highlights how politics can be a chronic stressor in people’s daily lives, underscoring the far-reaching influence politicians have beyond the formal powers endowed unto them.

Politics, it seems then, is not that great for our mental health and levels of well-being. However, whilst it seems pretty evident that politics can have a negative impact upon your emotions and well-being, when faced with stress there is always the opportunity to employ strategies and to take action to seek to mitigate that stress so that it impacts upon you less.

This was something that the research also looked at to find out how people sought to regulate their politically induced emotions. One strategy often employed was ‘cognitive reappraisal’ which is a form of reframing situations in ways that can reduce their emotional impact, for example, by reminding yourself that a situations isn’t as bad as it seems or through finding the more beneficial impacts of a bad situation. Another strategy is to direct your attention away from the emotionally negative events through distraction (e.g. doing something else or switching away from the news).

And a third method that can be used to regulate your emotions is to simply accept your own emotions by acknowledging and bringing awareness to your negative emotions as well as by treating your emotions as a normal response to difficult situations without judging or attempting to avoid or change those emotions. Acceptance aims to change your relationship with your negative emotions, rather than focusing on trying to reduce your emotions.

Using these strategies can help to protect you from the impact of negative emotions arising from the toll of daily politics. These methods can help you to lower negative emotions and so increase your sense of well-being in the face of the never ending stream of ongoing political news.

However, its worth noting that there is a bit of a trade off when it comes to using strategies to protect yourself and to reduce your negative emotions. In the field of politics, strong emotions can lead to being active and engaging in action aimed at changing the situation that caused your negative emotions in the first place. Emotions lead us to take action, such as an anxious person escaping from an uncomfortable situation or avoiding it altogether due to the anxious feelings it generates. Here, a sense of frustration or anger over a political situation can cause you to engage in action to seek to do something to address or change it and so if you lower your emotions through regulation, you are less likely to then engage in action to try and do something about it. Your well-being levels increase yet your motivation to take political action decreases. It’s a trade off between your emotions and your motivation to take action for change.


Stress, Anxiety and Political News  

As you may have already suspected, and as this research demonstrates, daily political events consistently evoke negative emotions that then lead to worse psychological and physical well-being. It seems to make sense, therefore, that if you want to feel better in yourself then it would be worth considering how much time and exposure you give to daily political news and to increase your awareness of how it impacts upon you personally. Certainly the research here suggests that it can increase your levels of stress and negative emotions and also reduce your sense of well-being.

That being so, it may be worth proactively managing how much time you are giving to daily political news and your exposure to it all throughout all of the various media outlets, such as TV, radio and the internet. This doesn’t mean you ignore what is going on and put your head in the sand, rather that you just keep an awareness of how these things affect you and perhaps how often you are just exposing yourself to similar stress inducing content about the same things repeatedly.

If negativity, worry and anxiety are issues for you then limit how much news you have at the start of your day when you aren’t yet fully alert and up to speed. You don’t want to cloud your day by starting it with anger, anxiety and frustration before you even head out of the front door. Likewise, avoid it last thing so that negative emotions and the sense of anger or threat don’t affect your sleep and so that you aren’t giving your brain a late night injection of stress and anxiety.

To manage how political news negatively impacts, you can call upon the strategies mentioned above, such as cognitive reappraisal or distraction, to help you with navigating your way through the daily political news, especially as the impact of politics upon all of us is something that you can’t simply switch off and ignore.

Or, you can make positive use of the emotions generated and use them as a form of motivation for taking action about those situations, subjects and topics that fire you up. Rather than being a passive recipient of ongoing news, you can be a proactive agent for change for the better.

So that, however you decide to keep up to date and engage with daily political news, you can then be aware of how it can impact upon you and you can then proactively decide how you want to engage with it and respond to events in ways that will safeguard and support your own mental health and well-being.


To your health and happiness, 

Dan Regan

Anxiety and Stress Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket


Struggling with anxiety, stress, worry and fear and need some help? Find out how I can help with a Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session. Learn more here: Appointments

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Reference: Ford, B., Feinberg, M., Thai, S., Gatchpazian, A. and Lassetter, B., 2020. The Political is Personal: The Costs of Daily Politics.



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