If you are an individual struggling to make sense of the political conflicts the U.S. is facing, consider these suggestions for balancing your emotions during the weeks following election results.
The November election 2016 and continuous political dispute have caused a large portion of our nation to experience sensations of confusion and grief. Some of us feel that recent events are negatively impacting daily functioning and concentration. If you are an individual struggling to make sense of the political conflicts the U.S. is facing, consider these suggestions during the weeks following election results.
Recognize Your Emotions
Try to identify which negative emotions you have been afflicted by because of political events. Some days you may wake up feeling perfectly satisfied, while other mornings you might feel overwhelmed by a multitude of distressing emotions.
Anger: You are frustrated by the results and may feel that your voice cannot make a difference. You find yourself directing anger onto others, especially those supporting candidates or opinions you disagree with. Reading the news and conversations on social media heightens your agitation, causing sensations of anger to linger.
Fear: You are frightened by the results and worry for your own safety, or the well-being of others around you. You may feel paralyzed by discussions regarding the election, and worry that there is no way to escape the fear.
Stress: Sometimes you find it hard to concentrate on small tasks because the stress is consuming your mind. Even when you become distracted, exposure to triggering content can resurface the anxiety. You may not recognize the exact factors of the election causing stress, but feel a general sense of uneasiness as you go about your day.
Sadness: Activities that would normally make you happy are no longer giving you lasting satisfaction. Listening to the current news sparks sensations of hopelessness and melancholy. You don’t understand how some people continue to function so normally, because the recent events have strongly impacted your mood. Your unhappiness may interfere with friendships, academics, work, and recreational activities.
Respond to Your Emotions
Recognizing your emotions is only half the battle; once you identify your feelings you can determine the best way to alleviate the negative emotions.
Encourage Respectful Conversations
Find a healthy outlet, such as discussion or support group, where you can share your opinion without facing judgement. Communicate with family and friends to determine conversation boundaries. Encourage openness and respond to each others’ questions and concerns.
If you feel like someone is belittling your character and beliefs, remove yourself from the conversation, rather than pushing the argument further. Understand the appropriate time to discuss politics and respect a person’s wishes if they don’t want to talk about the election.
Continue to educate yourself
Yes, social media platforms like Facebook provide quick and easy access to entertaining articles. However, the content and advertisements appearing on these pages are catered specifically to your perceived online personality. Google and Facebook monitor your search history, using the collected data to present you with articles and information that match your previous preferences. The user is consumed by a media bubble: you receive hardly any access to diverse information and unexpected ideas.
Instead, educate yourself about politics and events by following credible media outlets.Seek out platforms that will offer a wide range of opinions, rather than one specific viewpoint.
Find a Safe Space
Find a safe space away from the political disputes to help you unwind. Although it’s important to remain informed and part of the conversation, make sure you unplug for several hours of the day. Engage in an activity that allows reflection and quiet time. This could be spending time with loved ones, yoga, playing with a pet, exercise, or reading a book. It’s completely normal to want some time away from the disputes and discussions.
Learn How You Can Get Involved
Many people report feelings of helplessness due to recent political events. In order to gain your voice back, consider getting involved in a charity or a cause you are passionate about. Search for peaceful protests or speakers that are planning to stop in your area.
Find a local organization or campaign in need of volunteers. This could be anything from volunteering at a local shelter, seeking out an organization helping children, a non-profit working with refugees, or joining a grassroots campaign. You don’t need to make an impact on millions to be worthy of a voice; even helping a few individuals is an admirable accomplishment.
Move Forwards, Not Backwards
When a situation doesn’t work out the way you want it to, sometimes you can’t help but dwell on the past and wonder what went wrong. Although it’s easy to point fingers, this will not help alleviate the negative emotions you’re experiencing.
Think what you can do in the future, rather what you should have done. Remember that we are stronger together than divided, and each of us has amazing capabilities to help others around us, even in times of grief or pain. You don’t need to pretend everything is okay but aim to promote positivity instead of assigning blame to others.