5 Tips for Coping with Post-Election Shock and Panic

How to deal with feelings of depression and anxiety about the election results.

Posted Nov 09, 2016

Source: Unsplash, Creative Commons Zero

If you're already prone to depression, anxiety, or binge eating (or even if you're not), and your candidate didn't win the US election yesterday, you may be experiencing intense and difficult emotions today. 

Here are some practical tips for coping with your emotions in the upcoming days.

1. Do something productive. 

Whatever your feelings are now (e.g., shock, anxiety, despair), it's wise to guard against those feelings turning into helplessness and hopelessness, which can be particularly destructive if they set in. 

Try to do normal, productive things if you need a way to manage your feelings. Do something that gives you a temporary sense of having some control, even if it's cleaning out your freezer.

2. Plan a trip to a National Park this weekend. 

Why?  The feelings of awe that our National Parks inspire can help us get things in perspective and think more clearly.  Plus, being in nature and exercise are both great antidotes for anxiety.

3. Don't make it worse by stress eating.

The upcoming holiday season is already a high risk time for people to gain unwanted weight.  If you stress eat, you're only going to feel worse.  Look after your immediate health and self-care needs as best you can. 

4.  Reach out to vulnerable others with supportive messages.

If you know someone who has a particular fear as a result of the election (e.g., a muslim or LGBT friend, or someone with a chronic illness who relies on Obamacare), reach out to that person and let them know you're thinking of them.

Offering support to others is a way for you to feel better.

The same goes for anyone you know is going through a difficult time for reasons unrelated to the election.  For example, if you know someone who is going through cancer treatment, make sure that person doesn't feel forgotten in the election aftermath.

5.  Pay attention to which forms of debriefing with others help you and what doesn't.

You may find that you need to step back from social media or the news at times if you find those outlets start making your feelings worse rather than better.

Identify who you can discuss the results and debrief with in a way that's helpful to you, and doesn't work you up further.

Want more advice?

My colleague Dr Guy Winch also wrote an excellent article on coping with post-election emotions.

About the Author

Dr Alice Boyes is author of The Anxiety Toolkit.  You can read my prior Psychology Today articles here.