As we come to the end of the campaign trail, there are bound to be some happy people and some less-than-pleased individuals when it comes to election outcomes. What can you do if you are disappointed with the results? Try these five tips to help you:
Be careful how you react when you first learn the news. Anger or distress can sometimes cause flippant outbursts. These may offend those around you and even cause further problems. It is certainly OK to be upset and even to go through the stages of mourning. Just try to do so in a manner that is respectful toward others.
If you have children around, pay special close attention. You do not want to scare them with what you say. Comments like, "Our country will never survive this," could be taken literally.
Address your stress. Stress (even independent of the election) can cause all kinds of problems including a bad mood and tunnel vision. By tunnel vision, I mean seeing things from only one perspective -- with a bleak outlook. To help yourself feel better (and to be able to apply the tips provided here), take the steps you need to reduce your stress in a healthy way. Go for a walk, take some deep breaths, go out to dinner with a friend and stay away from any political discussions. Anything to reduce your stress will help you better deal with your disappointment.
Don't personalize other people's beliefs. Most likely there will be people around you who are happy with the results. When we are upset, it is easy to personalize other people's comments as an attack on us. In reality, someone else's opposing political beliefs have nothing to do with you. So remember that they are entitled to their opinions, just as you are entitled to yours. Do not personalize their differing political beliefs as an indication that they oppose you, as a person. And respect their freedom of speech (after all, it is one of the founding principles of this country).
Focus on what you can do. When an election turns out the way you hoped it would not, it is common to feel helpless: "Now there is nothing I can do." In reality, there is so much you can do. Rather than concentrate on what is wrong because of the election results, focus on what you can do to make things better. Find a cause about which you feel passionate and do some volunteering.
No time to help out for a prolonged period of time? Even just tweeting or Facebooking about a non-profit organization that is meaningful to you can help. By sharing information with your circle, the organization gets more social media coverage. And by helping out (in any way), you will feel less helpless and more useful.
Keep things in perspective. Just because the person who you voted for may not be in the White House next January, it does not mean the next four years will be catastrophic. Sure, there may be specific programs that are not ideal from your perspective. But with the many layers of government in our democracy, there is still much that can be done on an individual and community level.
And remember, if you are not happy, there is always another presidential election just four years away. For now, rejoice that the TV ads and incessant phone calls will stop -- for at least two years when the campaigns start up again.
For more by Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.