It may be hours or even days until a winner is declared in this year’s presidential election, meaning many will have spent days watching the analysis and results, holding onto hope that their candidate finishes on top. But if the eventual results aren’t as you’d hoped, or if you had been watching a local race that’s already been called, there are ways to cope that will prevent that disappointment from snowballing into something greater.
“Regardless of where you lie on the political lines, this was an election unlike any we have historically had,” Coral Seco, a licensed medical health counselor at Family Recovery Specialists, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility, told Fox News. “Acknowledge that. Give yourself some empathy and room to grieve that the outcome you wanted didn’t happen.”
Remembering to stay present and grounded in the moment by focusing on what you can control, rather than what may be happening in a state across the country, can also help prevent your feelings from escalating, Barbara Nosal, the chief clinical officer at Newport Institute, told Fox News.
“We can control our one vote, but the election results are out of our control,” Nosal said. “It is realistic and natural to feel disappointed and even to grieve if necessary if the results are not what you had hoped.”
Staying off social media can help you stay grounded and avoid confrontation.
Nosal said to resist putting energy into the election’s outcome “given you cannot change it” and to instead channel your feelings and emotions into journaling or some other art form. Reminding yourself that the results will not be the end of the world and that in four years there will be another election, can also help put it in perspective, she said.
Talking to friends or a support system can be helpful Nosal said, but setting boundaries and remembering to be mindful of them is important.
“It may be helpful to avoid friends and family that you know may feel differently than you about the election results,” Nosal said. “Once you feel comfortable, let them know that you don’t want to discuss the results.”
Seco said that avoiding social media can also help protect you from feeling overwhelmed, particularly if the results are not as you had hoped.
“You will find yourself continuously overloaded if you keep watching things that make you feel distressed,” Seco said. “If you and your family have different viewpoints, hold the boundary, don’t engage in political talk.”
If your feelings of despair or anxiety last beyond the election, it may be a sign of something bigger. Excessive fears and worrying, insomnia, fatigue, inability to focus, irritability, changes in diet or weight, and a lack of motivation can all be signs of an emerging mental health issue and should be addressed by a doctor, Nosal said.
“If you’re feeling depressed, reach out for support,” Seco echoed. “If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone you know, seek professional help.”