By Brittany Eaton
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
When I first became a political science major two years ago, it was vastly different and less stressful than it is now. I was not bombarded daily by political shake-ups, nor was I dreading turning on my phone each day to read about the onslaught of new tragedies happening in the world. I was informed, but the happenings in politics were not as heavily reported as they are today, simply because they were the normal, slow and boring policy changes that happened with or without anyone watching. While I do not directly blame the election of President Donald Trump or the media for today’s constant and tragic news, something happened last year that has never happened before. Political science majors are now in a different arena. Everyone has their theory of what happened and why, but I think the main difference was that people suddenly started tuning in (and are still tuning in). Politics is selling more than I have ever seen before. Stories about cabinet picks were suddenly hot-button issues, and that interest did not happen as heavily for our generation after former President Obama was elected. Because it was my major, I had friends and family members turn to me and ask me what policies meant and what was going to happen if so-and-so became head of a department. People I had never thought were interested politics started showing up in my life, and I was overwhelmed.
This is not to say that I am not a firm believer in helping people be informed. I eat, sleep and breath politics because I love the idea of being able to change the world one policy at a time. However, it is exhausting to keep up with the constant events or feeling left behind because I missed one news story while I was busy researching another. It is so important for us to be informed, and yet most of us have a shallow understanding of issues because the news moves so fast. I cannot count the number of times my professors have walked into class and said the equivalent of “Throw out what you learned in class these past couple of years because all of that stuff doesn’t count anymore.”
If you are like me and are struggling to keep up, self-care is crucial. Being an activist and an informed citizen (especially when it's your major) can take the best out of you, and you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of the world. Here are a few tips that have helped me through the last few months:
1. Know that it is fine to not read a story the minute it happens.
Let yourself take a break from all of the political talk for a couple of hours. Those stories will still be there later.
2. Keep calm and carry on. For real.
Take a bath, read a fiction book, read news that is not about tragedy or politics or meditate to get in a calm state of mind. Staying calm will make those shocking pieces of news less jarring later.
3. Get outside of your political science bubble.
Whether that means getting dressed up and going out with friends, or going to a local shop to browse some new items, it doesn’t matter! Do not spend all of your time trying to stay on top of the news and debating with your friends.
If you see one of your peers struggling because current events are taking a toll, let them know you are there for them. Encourage them to talk to the college counselor and get help. Knowing that no one is alone in all of this is deeply important.