Post-election stress: Staying calm and centered

Staying calm and centered amid post-election stress might seem impossible. So what’s up now that Democrat Joe Biden has been declared president-elect by major news outlets?

Well, divisive Election Day is behind us, ending a steady stream of political ads, mailings, phone calls, texts and social media posts that felt overwhelming at times. Whew!

But with ballot counts and possible challenges, the election fallout may be felt for weeks and maybe months. Our nation is trying to find its path forward. Social unrest is simmering in some of our communities. Ouch!

Relief. Uneasiness. Calm. Distress. Can we take any more from 2020? How do we possibly stay calm and centered?

“It’s very common, in fact quite normal, to feel waves of emotion during uncertain times,” said Mike Diller, PsyD., a psychologist and director of the WellSpan Employee Assistance Program. “It’s important to maintain balance by planning ahead, keeping calm and taking care of ourselves.”

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Tips to help navigate post-election stress

Here are some tips from Diller and the EAP team to help you navigate post-election stress:

  • Remember that life will go on. Avoid catastrophizing and maintain a balanced perspective.
  • If you have concerns about politics, channel them into making a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group
  • Avoid political discussions about the election results if you think they might produce conflict. If you decide to discuss politics, don’t do it with the intent to convince anyone. Instead, do it to better understand a differing opinion. Make the conversation about curiosity and friendly debate, not persuasion.
  • Reflection and perspective can be powerful tools in understanding the process of our own emotions as well as those of others. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal or express them through other forms of art or creative outlets.
  • This may be a good time to press pause and take time to disconnect from watching the news or accessing social media sites. A steady diet of that can become overwhelming. Instead, take time to breathe and be present in the moment.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and hydrate throughout the day.
  • Try to engage in some form of physical activity each day to help relieve the extra nervous energy you might be feeling. Even vacuuming, raking leaves, or a quick walk around your house can help.

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