The months leading up to this election were an emotional rollercoaster for many of us.  Now that the votes are in, millions of Americans are dealing with complicated feelings (especially if their candidate lost).  Many people have had very strong opinions (and a personal connection) with issues central to the candidates’ platforms.  With such an emotionally charged road to the election, it’s not surprising for the reaction to the results to be just as intense.

Being able to experience intense investment in a cause and care deeply about issues that are important to us is a wonderful part of being human.  When things don’t go our way (in this case, for those who voted for the losing candidate), it’s normal to feel sad, angry, or anxious.  Further, when the outcome feels so personal, as it has for many this year, we might feel a strong sense of despair, fear, and helplessness.

These moments are exactly when self-care becomes paramount.  The best way we can take care of ourselves in the face of these emotions is to go back to the basics – sleep, nutrition, exercise, and social connection.  Keeping to our regular daily routines can be a way to walk through the hopelessness.  Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night), nourishing our bodies with healthy and nutritious meals, and connecting with the people around us who we care for can provide a sense of stability and safety.

We must keep moving through out lives, yet, it’s very important not to stifle and ignore our emotions and fears.  At the same time, in an article published today on CBS news, Dr. Michael Thase, a professor of psychiatry and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania noted that it’s important not to “succumb to feelings that are catastrophic.”  It can be a balancing act between allowing ourselves to process our emotional experience and at the same time putting one foot in front of the other to get through our day.

The experts cited in the CBS news article suggested several ways in which people can express their emotional reactions in a healthy manner:

  • Gather with like-minded friends to talk about your disappointment
  • Avoid social media if you are feeling particularly volatile or vulnerable. Meeting with people in person can provide more support.
  • Blog about your thoughts and feelings (but do so with grace and compassion)
  • If someone says, Congratulations, your candidate won,” say, “Thank you, I’m sorry yours lost.”
  • If you feel paralyzed by fear about the impact of changes in health care, immigration policies, and the economy, remind yourself that changes such as these happen very slowly in the United States – there is time to plan and become politically active. Ask yourself how you can get involved within your community and make your concerns heard.