Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States of America. That fact leaves some people feeling devastated and others elated. Combine that with the general turmoil around the election, and most people are likely exhausted by the whole process.
Because this election has been toxic for everyone involved.
If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, it’s time to focus on self-care so you can stave off depression and re-engage positively in the public square.
Here are five steps to take to fight the post-election blues:
1. Honor your body.
When we’re recovering from shock or disappointment, our physical health is one of the first things to go. We start seeking temporary comfort through a series of destructive habits like numbing ourselves with Netflix, choosing a latte over a nap or indulging our appetites with sweets and alcohol. How many of us got through the election coverage with a pint of ice cream in one hand and a glass of wine in the other?
This type of behavior is fine in moderation but only leaves us feeling more exhausted and worn out in the end when we overindulge. Flip the script and “treat yo’ self” with activities that nourish your body. Eat a balanced meal. Go for a run. Lay off the coffee and sugar and grab a power nap instead. You’ll position yourself to operate at your best, and a healthy body allows space for a healthy mind to flourish.
2. Practice habitual gratitude.
It’s virtually impossible to remain anxious and express gratitude at the same time. Anxiety plays on our fear of impending danger and the belief that we are not OK. But gratitude lifts our emotions, connecting our heads and hearts around the idea that life is good.
Try to get in a positive headspace by making a commitment to gratitude. Pause at least once a day to write down five things you’re grateful for currently. They can be big items like “I’m still breathing” or small pleasures like “candied bacon maple macarons” (yes, that’s a thing … you’re welcome). Just be sure to write down the good stuff to routinely center yourself.
3. Connect with community.
When we feel discouraged and disillusioned, it can be tempting to withdraw from others, pulling into ourselves and sitting alone in sadness. Fight the temptation. Reach out to at least one friend or family member to share how you’re feeling. Or just “sit shiva” as in the Jewish tradition, and grieve in the context of community.
Depression and anxiety lie to us, saying we’re alone in how we feel. But spending time with loved ones will normalize your experience and right-size your response.
4. Pause to embrace the moment.
The cultural noise is at an all-time high as people publicly grapple with their emotions, making it appear that pain is all that surrounds us. Carve out a space for your own processing by creating a few quiet zones in your schedule. Disconnect from social media. Then consider journaling or pausing in prayer.
Ask yourself: How am I truly feeling about our current events? What impact has this had on my life? What concerns have been triggered by this election cycle? Knowing your own heart will serve you well in resisting the temptation to absorb the opinions of others that may lead you to despair.
5. Focus on your unique purpose.
When we experience turning points in our life such as this, it’s easy to become derailed and confused. The unexpected throws us off balance and we’re not sure which way is up. Don’t allow external circumstances to shift your internal compass. Ask yourself: Why do I exist and what matters to me?
The plans and purpose God has for you have not changed. If you already know your calling, tap into it by funneling your energy into the activities that fall in line with that purpose. If you have yet to discover the central meaning for your life, get curious. Reach out to mentors, ask friends what they see in you, or get a coach to begin discerning your calling.
In this time of division and disillusionment, America needs people like you to live with a clear sense of purpose that serves the common good.