Thursday, October 29, 2020 Your guide to coping with post-election stress
No matter your political views, the upcoming election may be a source of anxiety or disappointment. You might find yourself unsure of how to handle those feelings. Here are tips from UNL Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) professionals on how to better cope with post-election polarization and loss of control.
Students will often deal with a variety of issues after such a major election, and this year is no different. Do your best to name your emotions and acknowledge what you're feeling. In addition, reflect on your inner feelings and give yourself permission to feel the way you do. Although avoiding can help to an extent, ignoring strong emotions for too long can have a negative impact.
"Some will feel frustration, fear of what is to come, anger, anxiety and even sadness. For others there will be excitement, joy and in some cases, concern for others," says John Goldrich, a licensed mental health practitioner at CAPS.
You should also prepare for a disappointing loss and know how to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed by negative feelings.
"Be mindful of what is in your control and not in your control regarding the election results. Create outlets and spaces ahead of time by which you can engage in self-care, which in turn can provide a distraction from the disappointment," says Goldrich.
Unplug and Do Something
On election night, be sure to utilize strategies to cope with anxiety about the results. Turn off any media. Take time to care for yourself by going on a walk, reading, watching a movie or talking with a friend. It's important to be informed, but establishing boundaries is just as important. You can also channel what you're feeling into a positive and peaceful activity– use your motivation to do advocacy in your community in ways that fit you.
The hardest part of post-election days for many people may be navigating touchy conversations with those on the opposing side. Try to accept the other person as a human being and not a reflection of their party's political views. If someone with opposing views tries to provoke you, do not give in to the bait. Instead, Goldrich says, "Stay calm. Be accepting that this is their view and you do not have to react to it. Step away from the situation versus toward it. Do not answer anger with anger."
In these divisive times, it's also extremely important to be open-minded and welcoming to others. While it can be hard to get past your own views, interacting with others different than you can benefit both parties and unite us together again.
"To be open-minded you must be willing to accept that you will hear things you do not agree with. So, listening to what the other person or side is saying is very important," Goldrich says, "Secondly, take time to explore other views, don’t just turn your back on them. This will provide you with a better understanding of a different perspective."
After all is said and done, it's essential to start getting yourself back on track. Take some time to build up your energy and restoring yourself with healthy food and water. You can journal on the election or meditate, read something fun and slowly reintroduce yourself into the political world. You can't properly deal with stress if you aren't being kind to your body, so be sure to balance both areas of health.
CAPS will also be offering special counseling during election time, to assist students in managing their emotions. According to Goldrich, students will be able to visit with a counselor in the days following the election to process their feelings and explore strategies to navigate the world. You can also make a one-time appointment or receive continuous telehealth counseling through Counseling and Psychological Services.
Check out more helpful tips from CAPS.
Post-election stress events and conversations happening on campus and virtually:
November 5, 2020 | Special Edition Dish It Up: A Post-Election Discussion
November 5, 2020 | Mindful Moment Drop-In Group
November 6, 2020 | Check In Connection