This election cycle and its subsequent results have been a source of stress for so many. And rightly so — our new president has spouted racist, sexist and xenophobic messages, cause for any marginalized person, or any human being for that matter, to worry. Many of us, shocked by the results, were not prepared for the levels of stress we are perhaps feeling right now.
"Your level of stress after the election will correlate with whether your favored candidate won," says leading psychoanalyst, and author of Goodbye, Hurt & Pain, Dr. Deborah Sandella. "If your candidate won, your primary stress will be engaging with friends who voted for the other candidate and their emotions. For this person, it is time to reconcile relationships with your friends, family, co-workers, and Americans who hold opposite political views. If your candidate lost and your greatest fear of a president wins, you have some big de-stressing to do."
Now, more than ever, it's important to come together and think about ways we can move this country forward, but it is equally important to take care of ourselves in the process.
Here are a few ways you can de-stress post-election. These suggestions are not meant to minimize the weight of what many are feeling and how we will be affected in the coming years, but simply to take your mind off things, if even just for a moment, so you can be your healthiest self, in top mental shape to continue fighting for the America you believe in.
Whether you have a daily practice or you are meditating for the first time, simply calming your mind and focusing on your breath for 20 minutes or so can help ease the pit in your stomach you might be feeling. Listen to a guided meditation from the internet or simply sit in silence.
Meditation has scientifically proven benefits. "I did a literature search of the science, and saw evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia, and an increased quality of life," Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar told The Washington Post about why she started studying meditation.
2. Do some yoga. (And try rage yoga, too.)
Go to a class, follow a YouTube tutorial in your home, or simply sit in Child's pose for awhile. Yoga not only helps you exercise, but encourages mindfulness, and a special awareness of your body. Taking deep breaths while stretching can be a good way to quiet your mind, but if this method doesn't work for you because there are thoughts racing through your head a mile a minute, try Rage Yoga, a class created by Lindsay Istace where you can swear, yell, and drink, all while doing poses.
"Rage Yoga is like regular yoga but with a different attitude," creator Istace told A Plus in April. "It's not a new style, it's a different approach! We create a safe space for students to be honest about their emotions and to deal with them in a constructive way. This way they can use them like fuel in their practice to become a happier and stronger person, both on and off of the mat."
3. Take a break from social media.
While it's good to stay informed on what is happening in real time, taking a break from social media can help you just sit with the information you already have and process. Give yourself a chance to be away from the collective anxiety to focus on your own feelings.
Once you do find yourself on Facebook or another social platform, try finding the stories with silver linings because hopefulness and acceptance are great steps toward lowering stress levels. As Hillary said in her concession speech, "... we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don't just respect that, we cherish it."
4. Create support groups with friends and allies.
If you or someone you know has been marginalized in any way during the course of Trump's campaign, now is the time to seek support from like-minded friends or family who will provide empathy, compassion, and support. It is important to feel that your experience is valid and to know that you are not alone. Speaking openly about your anxiety, fear, or even excitement with people who understand is cathartic, and can be the ultimate de-stresser.
5. Go out and make positive change.
If the candidate of your choice did not win, you might be feeling totally disempowered. But doing any one small act in favor of what you believe in can help you reclaim that power.
Offer your support to others, donate to a cause you believe in, find out ways to get involved in organizations that might need help in the coming years, volunteer in your community. Perform a tiny random act of kindness. Making someone else's day brighter, can make yours that much brighter, too.
6. Treat yourself to some Netflix, but for the love of god, don't watch "Black Mirror" right now.
For ultimate escapism, just watch a happy movie. Zootopia is on Netflix and yes, it's a kid's movie, but it's theme is a simple reminder that we are at least trying to spread messages of acceptance. And while Black Mirror is undoubtedly the best show to have ever existed in the history of television (besides Battlestar Galactica, of course), do yourself a favor, and save it for when you're not feeling stressed — trust us on this one.
Watch Flubber instead.
Cover image via phloxii I Shutterstock