This election has been unlike any in recent memory. The candidates are universally not liked, their interactions have been less than civil and their positions on the issues are as far apart as they could be.
To make matters worse, the election has had a huge effect on every American. Friends are turning against each other, marriages are being strained, work places are full of tension. Anger and distrust is pervasive.
But now the election is over and, no matter who won, life goes on. Things might be different politically but we still have to get up in the morning, get the kids off to school, go to work, eat dinner with the in-laws, have date night and take out the garbage.
#1 – Check in with yourself.
I don’t know about you but for the past few months I have been obsessed with this election. Every day brought stories more shocking than the day before. It was like seeing a bad car accident…I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
And I swear it made me sick, both physically and mentally.
So take a moment now and see how you are feeling. Do you feel like you are living just a little bit on edge? Have you been having feelings of sadness more often than usual? Are you spending more time on the computer following the news than talking with your kids about their day? Do you spend your morning commute yelling at all of the incompetent drivers around you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then the election has definitely taken it’s toll on you. Awareness of this will enable to you take the steps necessary to move forward after this messy election and be yourself again.
#2 – Step away from your computer.
This is key. No matter who won the election the next few months, and years probably, are going to be messy. Neither candidate is going to heal what ails our country.
And neither can you, at least not by obsessing over every little step and misstep that happens going forward.
So stop screen sucking on CNN or FOX news. If you must be in front of a screen instead watch a new show on TV. Netflix just released The Crown, a period drama about Queen Elizabeth II. Or watch what I do: The Walking Dead. Nothing like a post-apocalyptic fantasy to take your mind off of the current day’s woes.
Even better would be to get away from all of it and do something else. Anything else. Shop, hike, swim, read, joust, laugh, cry, travel, scream. Anything that will help you release the tension of the past few months and generate some dopamine to aid in the healing.
You know what works for you. Now is the time to do it!
#3 – Reconnect with friends and family.
One of the saddest bi-products of this election is how it has come between friends, between families, between co-workers.
Social media has made this world a smaller place and we know that people will post things that they wouldn’t necessarily say in person. As a result, we have hurt and alienated each other. I know of many cases where family members don’t speak, friends are no longer friends on Facebook and politics have been forbidden in the workplace to prevent anarchy.
Now is the time to rise above and start to mend those rifts. The election is over and one candidate has won. The supporters of the victor must try to remain humble and the supporters of the loser must accept the outcome and move on. And we must reach out to each other and remember that we love each other and work together to rebuild our families and friend groups.
If these important pieces of the fabrics of our life, the pieces involving love and connection, are permanently damaged then America will never be able to bring about the change that it so desperately needs.
And remember, we are stronger together.
#4 – Make a difference.
Do you know the saying “Be the change that you want to see in the world?” There is no better time then right now to prove that adage true.
No matter who you supported chances are that you aren’t happy with the status quo. And you were hoping that the person you wanted to be President would make changes happen quickly. But, really, change doesn’t start at the top but at the bottom. Think about Rosa Parks and her refusing to give up her seat on the bus. She sparked a movement that ultimately culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making discrimination because of race illegal.
So be the change. Choose an issue that is important to you and get involved. I know you wonder how “little you”can make a difference but believe me you can.
I regularly give speeches to people with mental illness, telling them the story of my journey. The nurses say that every time I speak one person who wasn’t willing to accept that they are mentally ill does. And with acceptance comes healing. And with healing comes a life worth living…and that life will touch the lives of many others and make a real difference.
One person at a time.
#5 – Take a vacation from all of it.
We have all run a marathon. We are exhausted and weak from the effort. What our body needs is a break. Some nutrients. Some time to heal.
So take the next few months and just live your life. Go to work, be with your kids, walk your dogs, read a book. Let your body recuperate from what it has gone through.
Americans are very bad at convalescing. When we are sick as soon as the major symptoms are gone we get up and go on with our lives. As a result we often get sick again. Over and over.
So take some time and do whatever you need to do to feed your body and soul. I know for me I am going to spend these last few weeks of fall weather at the park with my dog, soaking in the fresh air while I can. Oh, and watching the Walking Dead.
Our country is right now in a time of crisis. I think that all of us, no matter what our political affiliation, recognize this. And it’s time to make a change. For that to happen every American must do his or her part.
You know when you are on an airplane and the flight attendants give the safety speech. They always say to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Following my tips is your oxygen mask. Take care of yourself, heal from the anger and vitriol of the past few months. Make amends. When you are ready, go forth in the world and make a difference, if even in a very small way.
Together, we can change the world.
Are you struggling with the way the world is now?
I know it can be really, really hard. Let me help you stay strong and survive!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.