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Big expectations lead to big disappointments. In this case, everyone seems uptight, worried, dreading the worst.  Everyone seems to have either given up or they have an overwhelming passionate investment in winning. The level of anger and vitriol generated by this election has become our preoccupation. All of this could easily lead to “post-election let-down” or “short-term depression.”

This is a normal reaction to enormous disappointment. Expect to feel upset and bitter for a while, and watch to make sure that you minimize taking these feelings out on your family and co-workers, strangers in public or persons of authority.

You may ruminate about how terrible things are going to be for the next 4 years, how upset you are with the outcome of the election, fantasize about leaving the country or refuse to cooperate with the changes you dread.  Recognize that these are relatively normal reactions to feeling extreme disappointment and ‘let-down.’  Over time, these feelings will minimize as you realize that there are various checks and balances that will prevent any president from implementing extreme, drastic campaign rhetoric. Dramatic changes are not likely to be implemented in only 4 years, and in another 4 years we will have another chance to change the course of the future.

Make sure to focus on the actual things in your life that are GOOD and valuable. Be careful not to engage in catastrophic futuristic thinking, and bring yourself back to reality by paying attention to the meaning in your life and the meaning in the lives of those close to you.

Get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise to vent your angry feelings.

This election has been so stressful, that the American Psychological Association has actually measured the effects stress from this election on adults in the US.  52% of American adults are experiencing significant stress related to this election. This increase in anxiety spans across party lines.  55% of registered Democrats and 59% of registered Republicans polled said that it’s a source of significant stress.

Research shows prolonged stress, like the kind associated with this race, can influence both physical and mental health.

1. Remind yourself about the good people, good causes, good things our country has to offer.

2. Put things into proper perspective.  We have experienced unpopular election results before and we have lived through them.

3. Seek professional help if you cannot manage your stress.

As we have turned ourselves into the “most connected generation”  in human history, we have also over -burdened our minds with too much information. We have lost our “healthy pace” and we are now unable to relax.

Learning to relax means figuring out how to clear your mind of the information overload. It means having time to do nothing. It means recharging your mind and body so that they can function at full capacity, not replacing that high energy, high stress work with another similar activity, like constantly texting, tweeting and following the news.

Dr. Amer Khan, a Child Neurologist and founder of a Sleep & Yoga Studio in California, recommends:

1. Schedule 30 minutes in your busy day to “do nothing,” absolutely nothing!
2. Turn off your cell phone, computer, iPad and every lighted screen around you.
3. Pay attention to how your muscles tighten up with stress. Stretch. Loosen up your arms and legs. Bend your back forward, backward and sideways. Massage your neck and shoulders.
4. Breathe deeply. Breathe in slowly as far as you comfortably can, then slowly exhale all the way.
5. Close your eyes and be thankful for all that you have. Visualize a pleasurable experience at your favorite place or in the company of your favorite person.
6. Repeat every day.

Things we must tell ourselves in order to cope with election results:

1. In a democracy, we don’t always get what we want (parents can remind their children and themselves).  Getting along in a society requires that we learn to accept things that we don’t always choose or want, but find a way to make it work.

2. Election rhetoric isn’t always reality. People tend to get very aggressive with election rhetoric and exaggerate problems and their positions to appeal to sub-groups within the population.  When reality of the results set in, after a brief period of adjustment, people tend to rally to accept the reality, like when your favorite team loses, you aren’t picked for the team, or you don’t get into your first choice college.

3. Trust the structure of our democratic government. Our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.

4. Use this as an opportunity to reassess your own values.  Even when we disagree, or don’t like someone, we must learn to get along with them to maintain societal balance and order.  Remind yourself of Michelle Obama’s statement:  “When they go low, we go high.” Start in your own home, then your community – to develop values and ideals that are meaningful and compassionate.

5. Whatever  happens on November  8, life will go on.

6. Maintain sense of humor; (SNL)

7. We have a responsibility as citizens of the United States to accept the outcome of the election and work together to understand and accept each other in the interest of a stronger, unified nation.

8. Serenity Prayer:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

Birmingham Maple Clinic | Michigan Mental Health