Do you find yourself experiencing extra stress since the election? Did you remove Facebook friends during or after the election process? Do you find your relationships strained with certain family members and even co-workers? Well you are not alone my friend! Salon.com reports,
Wally Pfingsten has always been a news junkie. But since President Donald Trump was elected, he’s been so anxious about the political tumult that even just having the TV news on in the background at home is unbearable.
“It’s been crippling,” said the 35-year-old San Mateo, Calif., resident and political moderate who has supported both Democratic and Republican candidates in the past. “I feel angry, really, really angry, far more angry than I expected to be.”
Pfingsten is not alone in his politics-induced anxiety — it’s so common it’s been given an unofficial name: Post-Election Stress Disorder. Mental health professionals around the country, especially those working in Democratic strongholds, report a stream of patients coming in with anxiety and depression related to — or worsened by — the blast of daily news on the new administration.
“In my 28 years in practice, I’ve never seen anything like this level of stress,” said Nancy Molitor, a psychologist in the Chicago suburbs. She says the vast majority of her patients — from millennials to those in their 80s — are bringing up politics in their therapy sessions. “What we’re seeing now after the inauguration is a huge uptick in anxiety.”
Many of her patients say they are having trouble sleeping and focusing at work or are fighting more with family members, she said.
- Make a difference where you are/can: It is important that we, as a people, dedicate ourselves (peacefully, that is) to making a difference in our world in whatever capacity we can. Life is tough. We all need each other in order to progress in positive ways. If we reach out to each other in love and compassion, we can move forward together. We must find common ground so that we can agree to disagree, live with each other’s views and opinions, and make the changes that need to be made.
- Openly discuss this with your therapist: The discussion of politics truly keeps people uptight and uncertain. To be frank, your political position is no one’s business except your own and those you choose to tell. But you should feel comfortable enough to bring up the topic of politics with your therapist. He or she may not receive your questions or views well. However, you can always ask to discuss your feelings without sharing too much information that may negatively affect your therapeutic relationship. For example, some of my clients have asked me how I would suggest they cope with the way things are now. Whatever position you hold, our nation is in an uproar because of feelings of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. My suggestions include what I am discussing in this article. It is also important that I mention that you should accept your therapist’s position as his or her own position and stay away from making judgments. You should also be comfortable with your therapist telling you that they would prefer you not discuss politics.
- Find ways to model sensitivity and acceptance: I must admit that I see a lot of people trying their best to reach out, be kind, and create an environment of peace. Whether it is a smile, a nod, laughter, a kind word, holding open a door in public, or simply offering a kind gesture, it is obvious. Have you seen a difference in how people are treating you or treating someone else?
- Strive to remain at peace with yourself: Some people may feel guilty for voting a certain way and suffer from feelings of regret or uncertainty. Some people may be angry with right-wing-ers who support only the republican vote. Others may be angry with their own party. However you may feel, it is important to find some internal peace with where you are. This process will include the following suggestions.
- Allow yourself to grieve: Grieving the “loss” of someone you supported and truly believed in could feel like the loss of a loved one or respected friend to death. The hope that you had may be diminished now and the motivation you maintained for the many days of the electoral period may be gone. Allow yourself to process your emotions and your thoughts. Shy away from judging yourself or anyone else who may be struggling with this. It is okay. It is normal to grieve that which you hold dear to you.
- Rise: Although you may feel overwhelmed, defeated, uncertain, or afraid, rise. Rise to the occasion(s) before us. We have tons of work to do and we can’t do it alone. We need each and everyone to work together in order to make the changes we desire as a nation. No great work is ever done alone or without challenges. The challenges ahead will require cohesiveness and peace. Once you allow yourself to grieve, discuss it, and toss it around in your head, rise. Allow the nation’s decision to spring-board you into the future.
- Engage in self-care: Self-care can include anything from exercise, sports, or dance to hot showers/baths, gardening, music, etc. Whatever makes you feel calmer or more in control of your life, do it. As long as the “self-care” is healthy and does not involve long-term negative effects (i.e., such as with alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.), I encourage you to do it. A little pampering of yourself is allowed every now and then.