Glad the campaign is over? Take a deep breath and recover, says UAB psychologist

The presidential campaign wraps up. Now what? A UAB psychologist offers tips on how to get over the election and get back to your own life.

klapow election 2016Likely Tuesday evening, or perhaps Wednesday morning, the winner of the 2016 presidential election will be determined. And after one of the most contentious — some say toxic — campaigns in history, the country will begin the long road back to normalcy, according to UAB clinical psychologist Josh Klapow, Ph.D.

“Wednesday will include election fatigue, toxic feelings, jubilation for some, utter frustration for others with a bit of relief tossed in for everybody,” Klapow said. “Now we start the process of how to reconcile the emotions associated with monumental wins, losses and change. We will need to find a way to carry on with those who feel differently.”   

Klapow’s tips on how to cope post-election suggest getting back to who you are, and focusing on what is important to you.

  • Refocus your activities. There will be lots of talk and coverage of the election and post-election activities. Remind yourself that the decision is made, and then go do what you need to for your personal life. The key is to not necessarily stop thinking about the election, but to keep yourself busy with activities that have real meaning in your own life. These might include your job, family, relationships, personal health and recreation.  It’s time to go have some fun.
  • Try not to re-engage in political discussion with family, friends and co-workers. The discussion may rage around you; but the more you engage in the discourse, the more likely you are to be frustrated. Listen if you like, and then remind yourself that you need to live your life. 
  • If you are so inclined, turn your passion into action. Get involved in the political process at any level, but do so actively. Talk to your local leaders; make an appointment to learn more about what they do; find out ways to help local government. Bottom line — do not think about it; do it. 
  • Let time pass. The election process was long; the transition process will be long; the transformation of government will be long. You can remain engaged, but do not let yourself be consumed. Spend a part of your day — not all of your day — focused on the political process.
  •  Remember that, in the end, the anger, frustration and irritation you feel is yours alone. You must find a way to deal with it. Blame whom you like, but only you — and not the political system — can diffuse your own emotions. Refocus, redirect and re-engage in life, and you will find that the anger and frustration will settle and resolve. It may never go away. That’s OK, but do not let it consume you. Passion for the country is admirable, but allowing yourself to be consumed by anger because things did not work out as you wished will only cause you pain. 
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