The 2016 presidential election was arguably the most stressful in history, with hoards of Americans making way to their therapist’s office to discuss underlying feelings of related unease. Its controversial results make carrying on difficult, especially for the 18.1% of Americans who already suffer from general anxiety. Finding ways to cope with feelings of worry, doubt, confusion and angst is important for the country’s collective mental health.
It’s important to curb that stress, not to negate the issues that our country faces, but to allow individuals to face reality with a clear mind and well developed perspective. These are some ways to cope with post-election stress:
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Reflect on Your Emotions
One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is reflect on the emotions that bringing us turmoil. Understanding triggering words or scenarios and the weight they hold for us helps curb anxiety. Take time to sit with your emotions patiently and allow yourself to feel. Let yourself think about instances where you may have felt stress or anxiety during the election, and meditate on the underlying reasons of why you felt this way.
Move forward by channeling your energy and emotions towards something that combats the things that bother you. Actions like volunteering to support a cause, donating towards community betterment, and finding ways in your immediate community that help build connectivity. For an example, check out this Romper piece about five women’s organizations to donate to after the election.
Communicate Your Feelings
Once you’re allowed yourself to feel and understand your emotions, you can then begin communicating them effectively. Grab the ear of a trusted friend and talk through everything in your head. Remember that your inner world greatly helps to shape your outer world. Communication builds friendships, trust and allies for moments where we may feel scared or unsure. It also creates a safe space for you to learn how to best articulate and communicate your feelings, which can feel tough and overwhelming in a country locked in such heated, constant debate.
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Run Towards Euphoria
This can be a time where feelings of unrest can creep in for some, but running is one of the truly best ways to maintain physical health, while combating chemicals associated with feelings of depression. Cardio inspires your body to release, endorphins which are chemicals within the brain that decrease stress, improve the immune system, and give off feelings of euphoria. Committing to a 20-minute run this evening is an effective way to balance your emotions, and maintain clarity.
Combat That Stress With Yoga
Yoga has been proven time and time again to greatly improve the emotional and mental well-beings of its practitioners. The act gives one the ability to strengthen themselves, find mental peace, and ease stress. In times where anxiety creeps in, try subtle yoga poses that you can do at home, at work or school—try the Mountain, Warrior, Bridge or Triangle poses. This will give you a moment to breathe and allow your body to release stress and tension.
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Rest the Tension Away
Tension invariably rises when taking sides in any scenario, and it’s physically and emotionally draining. One way to relieve post-election anxiety and stress is to make committed time for rest and relaxation. Insomnia is one side effect of stress and anxiety, and irregular sleep is going to make it tough to be healthy and productive. Treating your body and mind with tender loving care by getting good rest can greatly improve your attitude and overall well-being, no matter what’s caused the tension.
Be With Animals
Petting your dog or cat may seem like a mundane activity, but in hindsight, it’s these seemingly uneventful things that fuel positivity. Don’t have a pet? Visit your friend with a big, beautiful and friendly dog and cuddle up to feel the benefits. Hospitals around the globe quite commonly bring in Therapy Dogs for patients and their families during moments of distress and this week work offices were even flooded with them.
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Take Some Time for Physical Self-Maintenance
It’s not uncommon for us to feel as though we are unraveling when feelings of duress fall over varying communities—having a high capacity for empathy alone can weigh heavily on some. Be an ally for yourself by making time to focus on personal bodily self care—whether it be a clarifying face mask, a nail treatment, a deep conditioning hair treatment, a new hairdo, or an adjustment like cutting out an emotional irritant like caffeine. Feeling good, positive, whole and safe in your own body is pivotal in projecting those positive attributes outwardly.
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Give, Give Give
Along with tending to your own emotional security, try and offer some to others who may really need it as well. Referring back to the reflection step, understanding yourself and what you have to offer is a great way to channel your extra energy. Volunteer time to work with children from disenfranchised communities, get familiar with what programs your community has for aiding homeless veterans, or donate to a charity working to make your community a more friendly and tolerant place.
Elections and the need to feel divisive on certain matters can be a common source of strife within close friendships and families. Use what you gained from that time reflecting to realize if there are any resolutions you’d like to make with those relationships affected by the election. .
Remember, being easy on yourself and working towards feeling tolerance for those around you can greatly relieve stress from our country’s political status. Get in touch with your feelings, have a healthy outlet for expressing them—exercise, get rest, hug your pet, tend to some self-care routines, give abundantly and keep close relationships with those you know and love. In no time, that anxiety will diminish and we’ll be looking towards creating positive plans for ourselves in the future to come.
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