Therapists and medical professionals are seeing a rise in post-election stress disorder (PESD) compared to other election years. Like its counterpart PTSD, PESD results when a person is exposed to a traumatic event that overwhelms their normal coping skills. Common complaints are feelings of shock, dismay, depression, fear, panic, and impending doom. The election, combined with the pandemic, is causing multiple layers of stress. Here are steps to help navigate this unique time:
- Stabilize the situation by turning off the flow of stress. Back away from the all-day news channels, social media sites, blogs, tweets, and radio rants. Stay away from the typical water cooler chatter and develop a list of distracting responses to the question “So, what did you think about the election?”
- Acknowledge that this has been a unique experience in our nation’s electoral process. Place a narrative around your personal experience with it. Feel free to harken back to the “good old days” of the Nixon administration and the political train wreck that was Watergate.
- Facilitate understanding of what took place. It’s normal to have a shock reaction to unexpected events. The fears and anxieties that are arising are simply the mind’s attempts to find meaning and take comfort in understanding. Don’t worry about your worries.
- Encourage effective coping. Maybe this is not the time to take to social media and rant about everything that is wrong with the world. Take a step back and get the wider view.
- Recover a sense of normalcy in your life. Most of us don’t spend large amounts of time neck-deep in politics. Swim out of the deep end of political rhetoric and take a walk, listen to music, argue with your children about their grades. By all means, rest and restore your energy; you’ve earned it. If, upon awakening, you find your resiliency muscle is in need of a workout, consider referring yourself to a helping professional.