By Roxy Simons for SocialWorkGuide
Combating Post Election Anxiety
Post-election anxiety is completely normal. When the winning candidate doesn’t reflect your personal values or acts in ways you never expected, you may feel hopeless about the state of our country. The 2016 election caused significant stress to both Democrats and Republicans, but you don’t have to succumb to your anxiety. You can combat post election anxiety by taking action, connecting with loved ones, practicing empathy, and seeking help.
Recognizing the Symptoms
Before you can actually tackle post election anxiety, you need to recognize the symptoms. According to Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler’s Psychology Today article, some signs of post election stress include “sleepless nights, chronic anxiety, fluctuating depression, anger, frustration, and fear.” This election also brought bullying, fear of deportation, and protesting. Admitting to experiencing these symptoms may seem daunting, but realizing your feelings is the most important step to treat them.
When the world seems void of humanity, the best way to keep the faith is to practice compassion in your community. You can make a big difference with small actions. Get involved by starting a petition, donating your time and money, or writing to your representatives. Most importantly, get out and vote, not just every four years, but during local elections. Have a voice in who represents you. Physically taking action may help alleviate some concerns you have regarding our current political climate.
Although being informed is important, excessive exposure to conflict and frustrating opinions can be overwhelming. Give yourself a break from social media, news outlets, and television. Unplug from the world, if only for a few hours. Surround yourself with friends and family. Talk to your loved ones about the state of our nation. Engage in healthy debate, but if you feel a discussion is going to turn into conflict, walk away. Being educated about differing political views keeps you well rounded, but unnecessary arguments and stress will only worsen your political anxiety.
Just as you have reasons for your beliefs and political views, so do those in the opposing party. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, your opinions have been shaped by personal experience, immediate surroundings, and exposure to politics. Instead of demonizing members of a different political party, find out why they hold their beliefs. Like you, they are members of society who want the best for their families. We are all citizens of the same great country. We should be working together, not tearing each other apart. Listen, research, and empathize.
Post election anxiety isn’t the only stressor in our lives. Work, school, and life in general can stretch the most organized person too thin. Whether you’re having post election anxiety or you’re fighting daily stress in general, seek methods of combating these stressors. Manage your stress levels through exercise, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, massage, medication, or seeking help from a mental health professional. Whatever you do to manage stress, make sure you’re dealing with your emotions in a safe and healthy manner.