Politics can impact your brain and health, study says


(Cleveland Clinic)- Many of us want to be informed citizens, but can taking in too much political news take a toll on our health?

According to one recent study – politics can interfere with everything from our emotional stability to our physical well-being. The study looked at survey responses from a group of 800 U.S. adults.

“It puts a strain on relationships and it puts a strain on the individual,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Joseph Rock, PsyD, who did not take part in the study. “A lot of people are saying that they find politics to be a significant source of stress; that it’s affecting their sleep, it’s affecting their relationships, and it’s affecting their family life.”

As many as 30 percent of the people surveyed said politics triggered feelings of anger, frustration, hate, guilt or led them to make comments they later regretted.

Dr. Rock said part of the problem is that we can’t get away from political news anymore. And when we put a lot of focus on things over which we have no immediate control – it can be a recipe for mental distress.

Dr. Rock recommends taking breaks from politics and instead, focusing on the three things we can control – our thoughts, our decisions and our actions.

He said the key is to give yourself permission to occasionally ‘check out’ of the news cycle. “You need to pay attention to how you’re feeling, not just what you’re thinking,” said Dr. Rock. “You need to be a good, informed, citizen, but you don’t need to know every single thing that’s going on, because it’s just too much as assimilate, and it overwhelms us.”

Dr. Rock said people are generally poor at recognizing when politics have gotten in the way of their relationships.

He said it’s easy to become convinced that we’re right, and when we get too wrapped up with what’s going on in our heads, we don’t see that other people might not agree with us.

“When it becomes a compulsion, when you feel like you have to do it, when you feel like you don’t have a choice, you’ve got to take a step back,” said Dr. Rock.

“When you reach that point, you’re not doing what’s in your best interest; you’re doing what you think you’re supposed to do, and when you’re doing that you’re ignoring how you’re feeling, the impact it’s having on you and the impact it’s having on the people you care about.”

Complete results of the study can be found in PLOS ONE.

What others are reading:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Inside Utah Politics Logo

Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...

Don't Miss