For many people, election-related anxiety has been building for several months. Now that the election is over, many Americans are feeling a mix of anger, sadness, confusion, and even denial. And those who are celebrating the election results may still be feeling fear, frustration, or tension.
Thankfully, there are many things you can do right now to help.
1. Identify what you’re feeling and why.
The election campaigns and subsequent results struck personal chords with many people. Because there were so many hot-button issues in play, this election brought out strong emotions, and many people have felt a sense of hurt, fear, or repression.
Try to name the emotions you are experiencing — fear, anger, sadness, expectation, surprise, confusion — and ask yourself what is at the root of those emotions.
2. Avoid negative talk and venting.
While it might feel good to blow off steam in the short term, lashing out or name calling will only prolong and even intensify your negative emotions.
Stay away from negative talk and shift your mindset toward more positive thinking. This might mean staying off social media if you find this triggers your anxiety or anger.
3. Take action.
Positive thinking sounds nice, but you’re probably wondering what practical steps you can take to stop the spiral of negative emotions. Feel empowered by realizing you have control over your own behavior.
Go out of your way to treat everyone with respect. Pay attention to your biases and address them. When talking to people who share opinions different from yours, try to listen objectively and show compassion for their points of view.
4. Stick to your core values.
Do something good for others. Live up to the ideals you hold. Volunteer, give to charity, or simply help a neighbor or friend with a task like babysitting or carrying their groceries up the stairs.
5. Practice self-care.
If you’ve been experiencing anxiety, pay attention to your needs. Get some exercise, go outside, rest, and see your friends. While it can be tempting to isolate yourself when you’re feeling emotional, be sure to surround yourself with people who help you recognize the love in your life.
6. Stay in the moment.
When you’re experiencing fear, uncertainty, and doubt, you may find yourself jumping to conclusions, trying to predict the future, or catastrophizing. These are cognitive distortions — they don’t represent real life — and will only worsen the negative emotions you may be feeling.
Instead, practice staying in the moment. You can do this by focusing on your breath, thinking about your friends, or meditating on whatever makes you feel safe and sound.
7. Be a compassionate teacher.
Reassure people — especially any children you may have — that they are safe. Take time to address any questions they may have.
Model the behavior, speech, and attitude you hope to see in others. This is particularly important when it comes to being around children. After all, they are the future.