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Psychologist discusses navigating mental health during tense political times

Posted at 9:39 AM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 13:55:47-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Even after a year of growing political tension and divide, Wednesday's siege at the U.S. Capitol reached a new level. It's just the latest event to bring up feelings of anxiety and uncertainty in many people.

“It's very normal to have a lot of strong feelings of anxiety or sadness or confusion, uncertainty and all that,” said Dr. Felito Aldarondo, a licensed psychologist and associate director of UK's Counseling Center.

Dr. Aldarondo says it's important to recognize the signs of anxiety, like increased heart rate, trouble sleeping and changes in eating habits. If these feelings continue and affect your daily life, it could be time to seek professional help.

As for the short-term though, he says self-care, like meditation, exercise, and socializing with others is essential. He also suggests limiting information intake.

“I think it's helpful to be informed and know what's happening, but also not to just inundate one's self with information repeatedly,” he said. “Watching images that are disturbing over and over again or reading a lot of the same information over and over again is not necessarily helpful.”

Dr. Aldarondo also says to focus on what you can control. That could mean putting energy into being politically active in local government or causes if you want to take action.

As for handling tense relationships over different opinions about the siege, he says it’s a challenge to do that during these times.

“I think people need some time to process and kind of work with their emotions before they go and have difficult conversations with people who may be on the other side of the political spectrum,” said Aldarondo.

He says if a conversation gets too heated, it is okay to step away.

As we move forward into a new presidency, feelings of uncertainty may linger, but there are things people can do to take care of themselves and those they care about.