Regardless of which side of the political divide, you are on, more than 50% of the electorate said they were experiencing high-stress levels even before the results were announced early Wednesday morning. Short amounts of stress are not necessarily harmful and can help us stay focused to accomplish a difficult task. But, long-term stress such as an 18- month campaign cycle can cause physical and mental health problems. For those whose candidate did not win and are worried and anxious, here are five tips to build your resiliency based on the recommendations of the Greater Good Science Center at Berkley University.
#1 Stop Revisiting the Events -It’s natural to relive painful events over and over in our heads, thinking about why it happened and what you could have done differently. This rumination keeps us stuck and can lead to depression. It also it doesn’t move us forward toward healing and growth. Instead of replaying the events of this election cycle, accept what has happened. You may or may not like it, but accept that in the short-term, you can’t change it.
#2 Find Meaning -“How strange to see such anger and great discontent in some of the world’s richest nations,” said The Dalai Lama in a recent NY Times article. “The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies.” Ask yourself, “What matters most to you right now”? Is it your friends, your family, or your community? Make an effort not to succumb to hopelessness and despair by reminding yourself of your values.” “Had my generation given up, writes journalist Leslie Salzillo, we would never have seen the passage of civil rights, marriage equality or President Barack Obama. Had the women generations before me given up, I would not have the right to vote.”
#3 Take Action – The best antidote to helplessness is taking action. If you think that one person’s actions will not have an impact, think again. Whether that means running for the school board or local office, doing charity work, donating to organizations you care about, or just being there for loved ones—whatever is in line with your values and brings you meaning will help you feel like you’re working toward the vision of the world as you want it to be.
#4 Connect With Others – Scholars have long considered social relationships to be fundamental to happiness and well-being. A polarizing election like this one can lead to social mistrust – a belief that others who voted differently don’t understand. Cultivate relationships and seek out what you share with others, not what is different.
#5 Show Gratitude – In spite of the worry and disappointment you may feel, there are always things in your life that work. Spend a few minutes each day and write down three things that went well. Write a gratitude letter to someone you appreciate.
What has worked for you over the past few days? Feel free to respond to this post and share it with others.