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Managing Cancer and Political Stress

Posted 10/19/2016

Posted in

  Whatever your politics, we must all agree that this has been an exhausting and stressful election season. As we near tonight's final debate, I have listened to a lot of conversation about weariness with the whole process and anticipation of November 9th.

  This article was circulated today on my professional (Association of Oncology Social Workers) Listserv. While I think it is somewhat simplistic to equate cancer stress with political stress (as in, most of us would take any kind of difficult politics over a cancer diagnosis!), there are some good thoughts here.

How to Manage Election (and Cancer) Stress
Recommendations following recent annual APA “Stress in America” report:
• Limit news/information intake
o Create healthy boundaries in your relationship with the news.  Read just enough to stay informed.  
o Take a digital break.  Allow time to read what is helpful, uplifting and inspiring.
• Take time for yourself 
o Go for a walk.
o Spend time with friends and family doing what you enjoy
o Enjoy what is happening in the rest of your life.
• Maintain boundaries and respect in relationships.
o Limit time you spend arguing about politics (or conflicting treatment regimens).  Don’t constantly seek opinions from others.
o Focus on other topics as well – especially things you enjoy.
• Don’t fall into fear about the future.
o Avoid dwelling on what might happen or the worst that can happen.
o Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. (Volunteer, advocate, etc)
• Maintain perspective.
o Avoid catastrophizing, making things and the future feel worse than they really are.
o More stress is triggered by perceived threat vs. actual evidence-based threat
• Vote.
o Maintain a sense of personal control.   
o Make informed decisions.
o Find balanced information to learn about candidates and issues on the ballot, relevant to you.  
The importance of ongoing stress management:
• Build resiliency.  It is a skill you can learn.  
• Become aware of what you’re feeling stressed about.  Notice unhelpful thought patterns and change them.
• Develop strategies that minimize stress in the moment.
o Breath, exercise, meditate, non-toxic social support, journal, color, etc.
• Remove as many of the sources of stress in your life that you can.
• Increase your sense of personal control where you can.


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