The 2016 presidential election brought up a lot of strong emotion for people in the United States and around the world. For many, the outcome is disappointing. For some, there is a feeling of uncertainty about the future. Will we continue to see less civility in public discourse? What does this change mean for us as individuals?
How can we deal with the big emotions that come up around this kind of unpredictability? Taking charge of your thoughts and feelings by taking positive action can help. Here are some steps you can take now:
- Do something. Start or join a group of like-minded people and take on an issue or social problem you feel passionate about. Taking action may help you feel like you’re not just spinning your wheels but doing something constructive to counter whatever discomfort the election result brings up for you.
- Distract yourself. If there isn’t an action you can take right now, get busy thinking about and doing something else. Get outside, read a book, check some things off your to-do list, or call a friend and talk about your goals. Get involved in your favorite hobby. Do something other than focusing on the election outcome and its possible ramifications.
- Be kind. Make a decision to bring more light into the world, to make the world a better place with your presence. Practice random acts of kindness. Offer help to someone who might need it. Make a conscious effort to be gentler with the people you encounter and interact with.
- Meditate. Meditation can help calm your nervous system, thus reducing your stress level. Take 10 to 20 minutes each day sitting in a comfortable position. Count backward from 50 as you follow your breath in and out of your body, counting each full “in” and “out” as one.
- Exercise. Physical exertion will help increase endorphins (or feel-good hormones) in your body. If you’re already exercising, consider trying something new, such as yoga or dance, to make things more interesting. If you’re not, consider adding exercise to your daily routine. Just 30 minutes of exercise that increases your heart rate four or five times per week can help you think more clearly and help you stay calm in times of stress.
- Stay focused on the present. This is the only moment you can control. Practice saying to yourself, “I’m okay right now,” as you breathe deeply. Hone in on your senses—notice what you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste—to mindfully ground yourself in the present moment.
Change can feel scary, and uncertainty can be anxiety-inducing. Taking action, practicing kindness, and engaging in self-care can help you weather challenging events and periods of difficult transition.
© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Mary Bradley, LSCSW, LCSW, therapist in Kansas City, Missouri
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