6 Ways to Cope with Post-Election Uncertainty

Group of people volunteering pick up litter in parkThe 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Lillith

    Lillith

    November 15th, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    This is not the first time I have voted for someone who lost and I am sure it will not be the last. But the one thing that I do know is that our country is still strong no matter what the “winner” might say and I never really believed that we had lost that strength. I believe that we will come through this, maybe still divided but at least confident that no matter who holds that one office that is not a singular power and we can still be proud to be Americans given that there are still checks and balances built into the government.

  • Glenn

    Glenn

    November 15th, 2016 at 2:27 PM

    I have found some like minded people who feel exactly the same way that I do so now when I need to do a little bit of venting, while these people might not be the closest friends that I have, sometimes it is nice just to be able to say what you really are feeling and not be afraid of being ostracized when I am with them.

  • Hilda

    Hilda

    November 16th, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Is it just acceptable to try to forget all about it and look toward four years from now?

  • Marvin

    Marvin

    November 16th, 2016 at 3:04 PM

    I don’t get it
    what kind of uncertainty is there?
    This is something that we do every other year people, elect new political leaders.
    This is not the first time and it won’t be the last.
    the only thing that is really uncertain is if people who are moping around about this can find a way to suck it up for a while.

  • Ella

    Ella

    November 17th, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    For me I have to focus on the future. I think about what this election means to me and what this will mean for my future and for that of my own children and quite frankly it does not make me feel that secure. So I just vow to keep doing the things that I do to make progress a real thing from my perspective, and I talk to my children and let them kn ow that voting is such a powerful privilege that just should never go without being taken advantage of. This is a wonderful country and no matter who is president I would never choose to go to live anywhere else.

  • don

    don

    November 18th, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    they go low, we go high… wise words Michelle Obama

  • Brittany

    Brittany

    November 19th, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    Go right to the source and speak your mind as the actor did addressing Mike Pence at the Hamilton performance last night. That was incredible! If more of us could find a forum like that to have a voice like that, to really be heard, then I think that this is what will bring about the change that so many of us are searching for,

  • mike

    mike

    November 20th, 2016 at 7:13 AM

    There’s always the big move to Canada that so many talked about

  • Evelyn

    Evelyn

    November 21st, 2016 at 3:15 PM

    Personally I am trying to roll with the punches. It may not have been the outcome that I desired but it was the outcome that I got so what more to do than live with it? I am in no position to up and move nor do i really want to.

    I love the United States and even though my candidate or party didn’t fare too well, there is always something to take away from this. That just means we have to fight a little bit harder the next time around and find someone who can reach out and speak to many more people that what we had this year.

    I don’t feel scared to speak my mind, nor do I think that others should feel that way either.

  • Blake

    Blake

    November 22nd, 2016 at 2:03 PM

    Use the serenity prayer, asking for the peace to deal with and understand the things alone that I cannot change.

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