Voting and Brain Health

This post was originally shared on Dr. Becker-Schutte’s practice blog.

What on earth does voting have to do with mental health? That’s a fair question. Bear with me.

This is new territory for me (kind of). In the four years that I have been writing this blog, I have never addressed politics here. There are good reasons for that. The first is that therapy is a safe and neutral space. People are welcome in therapy regardless of their background or beliefs, and each person’s background and beliefs is given room to be valid. That’s still true. The second is that part of my job in therapy is to nurture that safe and neutral space–and talking politics makes it hard for lots of people to stay neutral, so I don’t talk politics.

And actually, I am not going to talk politics today either.

But the fact that tomorrow is election day did get me thinking. One of the topics that I cover with my clients extensively is the issue of choosing to take action in the areas that you actually have some control. Because life is full of things that you can’t control, and it is easy to focus on those things. It is easy to let your depression or anxiety feed on the awareness of what is not under your control.

I don’t have a magic formula that takes away the out-of-control pieces of life. But I can remind my clients (and you) that you still have plenty of places where control is possible. Where your choice makes a difference. And growing towards health includes noticing those chances and making choices.

So, in that context, voting matters for mental health. Voting is a space where any citizen in good standing over the age of 18 can have their own moment of control. And I know that people will argue that they don’t believe that their votes matter. Sometimes, in a district with a deep political identity, that might seem true. But the reality is that voting matters to each of us on an individual level. It means that we get to say, no matter the outcome, that we were active participants in the process.

Being an active participant in your life is an incredibly healthy choice.

So, I would strongly encourage you to vote tomorrow. And after that, make another choice. Then another one.

Change happens one choice at a time.

Not sure what issues you have to vote on? Not sure who the candidates are? Don’t worry, there are tons of nonpartisan voting guides out there. Here are just a few:

Project Vote Smart
Voter’s Edge
Vote411
On The Issues

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