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  • Christy George, LMFT

Moving Forward After the Election: 8 tips to help you if you are struggling

The election is over. People continue to have deep feelings about the possible changes the results may hold for our nation and our futures. If your candidate won, you are probably feeling hopeful, excited and relieved, not really giving any of it a second thought, except for all of the protests, social media posts and people dooming and glooming about the future. All of this may be giving you pause, or is simply contributing to feelings of defensiveness, anger and urges to ignore it all.

If your candidate didn’t win, on the other hand, chances are you are feeling afraid, confused, and possibly depressed. Many people fear this year is different than past years, which not everyone understands. The intense emotional responses are not about losing, they are in reaction to the negativity surrounding both candidates, and the outrageous personal actions, and promises that were made during the campaign. Many people’s survival responses of fight, flight and freeze are being triggered on a very primal level. Some people fear for their civil rights. Some people are afraid for their safety, and financial well being. Some people feel violated as the memories of past trauma have been triggered by some of the ugliness that was revealed during the campaign. And many people are looking at their neighbors and fellow Americans in a different way, saddened by the idea that racism, sexism, homophobia and hate are more alive and closer to home than they realized.

All of this can easily leave people feeling helpless and hopeless, paralyzed by their own freeze response. What’s a person to do? How do we move forward from this? Here are some ideas to help bring people together, and move past election day, to work together to build a better world.

1. Don’t give into the hate. We are all in this together, and it is more important now than ever, to love each other regardless of our political beliefs.

2. Realize you have some power over your situation. There are local organizations who strengthen our communities who need your help. Pick at least one group to donate your time and money to.

3. Get away from your computer, phone and media for awhile. Constant bombardment from media, and people we know can contribute to our stress and fear of the unknown.

4. Get into nature. Give yourself a healthy dose of fresh air, and quiet each day to calm your nervous system.

5. Surround yourself with love. Seek out supportive relationships with other humans, or animals. This contact helps us to feel safe in unsettling situations.

6. Engage in at least one pleasant activity a day, and notice how this makes you feel in the moment. Orienting to pleasure can reduce the effects of negative emotions.

7. Think of how your contributions to the world make a difference, and put a plan into action. It’s true, we can change the world one person at a time. It doesn’t mean we have to make grand gestures, or touch a million lives to make a difference. Being kind, helpful and generous of spirit effects those around us one by one, and it spreads. Think of how you feel when someone treats you with respect, and then you can help but pay it forward. And remember how if someone treats you poorly, that bad deed may get paid forward as well in the form of feelings of irritability, and resentment toward others. Regardless of who is president, we are still responsible for ourselves and how we treat each other. This gives us considerable power over any circumstance.

8. Seek support from a professional in your community. If you continue to have intense, ongoing emotional responses to the election long after it’s over, there may be something more to process with someone who can help you.

This list is a guide to help you through a time that is difficult for many people. I work with a variety of people to reduce stress, obtain balance, build and improve relationships and increase life satisfaction. If you could use some extra support this time of year, call me to explore your options.

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