After a 10-month long vitriol-filled, extremely divisive election campaign, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, apoliticals and people from countries other than the US can probably finally agree on one thing — one way or another, we're all glad it's over.
It's not quite business as usual though. Here at SteadyHealth, our sole purpose is to inform those people who want to play an active role in their health and healthcare; we're not, and can't be, partisan. We have noticed, however, the news that 660 people contacted the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline between 1 and 2 am alone on Wednesday night, two and a half times the usual number. We know, too, that the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, got more calls on that same day than it ever did before in its 18 year history.
This is not quite business as usual. While some are afraid of the future the president-elect, Donald Trump, will bring them, others are frightened of anti-Trump protesters, one of whom was quoted in the press as saying that "there will be casualties on both sides".
Now that the elections are over and a winner has been declared, the only way forward is forward. If you are one of the people who has severely been affected by the aftermath of these elections, or you are suffering from anxiety, fear, or anger at the moment, what can you do to protect your mental health? One option is to try relaxation techniques for anxiety, but here are some additional tips that we think you should take into account.
Get Off Social Media
Social media has provided voters with a uniquely 21st century way to voice their political opinions. While some people in your personal offline social circle inevitably bring politics up continuously, most are more reserved, placing politeness and consideration of other people's feelings before their need to spout their views. Not so on social media, where people leave their sense of etiquette behind all too readily, shouting insults of the kind you'd rarely see "in real life" back and forth at each other without any concern for others' feelings, and frequently even thriving on the idea that their words cause others to feel aggravated.
Thankfully, regardless of how large a part of our modern lives social media has become, you can choose to cut down on its use, to refuse to engage with those whose opinions cause you anxiety, remove those who aggravate you from your friends list, or simply institute a social media break. Your mental health will be much the better for it.
Ground Yourself In Your Community
Surround yourself with those you love and care for. Be extra nice to your neighbors, regardless of their political views, in the aftermath of this election. Consider bringing meals over to elderly neighbors' homes, volunteering to help your children's friends with their math homework, or picking up some slack for a co-worker who has recently faced medical issues. The antidote to this division is a community, the feeling of which incidentally helps heal some of the anxiety many of us are feeling right now.
Learn About The Five Stages Of Grief
While grief is a little more complex than the well-known five stages of grief, learning about them nonetheless gives you a rough idea of what to expect. If the outcome wasn't what you were hoping for, it is completely normal to be mourning the future you had hoped for, and you will probably be experiencing:
- Denial (or shock)
- "Bargaining", which may be experienced as feelings of guilt as well ("If only we had...")
If you do find that your daily life is overshadowed by a feeling of dread, to the point that you cannot function well, it's not ridiculous to seek counseling. You will, however, want to make sure you pick a therapist who is on the same side of the political spectrum as you are.
Looking Towards The Future
Actively engaging in the political process in any way, whether through party politics or by engaging in charity work or activism, gives you a sense of control over the future, letting you know that you are doing what you can to usher in the future you are hoping to see.