I am concerned about the many people I have calling me recently about the stress, helplessness and anger they are feeling over the outcome of the election. This is from both sides! Families and friendships have broken up over it. Friends of mine (from both sides of the fence) have posted messages of anger and fear on social media. People speak of feeling betrayed by friends who voted differently.

Post Election Stress Disorder

I have read articles in professional journals recently that others are seeing the same thing. Today I was told about a diagnosis of Post-Election Stress Disorder (PESD).  Like its counterpart PTSD, PESD results when a person is exposed to a traumatic event that overwhelms their normal coping skills.  Common complaints are feelings of shock, dismay, depression, fear, panic and impending doom.  Even this has caused a division, as a veteran who has experienced the horrors of combat or a victim of violent domestic abuse feels it is disingenuous to compare the differing scenarios. What I know is, to the people I speak with their experience is real and they are suffering.

From Survivor to Thriver!

One of the traditional models of treating PTSD, developed by George Everly, PhD, uses a SAFER model to guide one through a crisis. This can be used for PESD as well.  The basic steps are:

  • Stabilize
  • Acknowledge the crisis
  • Facilitate understanding
  • Encourage effective coping
  • Recovery or Referral

Stabilize the situation by turning off the flow of stress, which includes the all-day news channels, social media sites, blogs, tweets and radio rants.  Unfollow political posters for a while. Limit your reading the latest news to a minimum.  For work, develop a list of distracting responses to the question “So, what did you think about the election?”

Acknowledge that this has been a unique experience in our nation’s electoral process.  It isn’t the first time our nation has been at odds, so remember the adage, “May you live in interesting times”. President Kennedy once referenced this in a speech he gave. We survived a Civil War and Nixon’s Watergate.

Facilitate understanding of what took place. It’s normal to have a shock reaction to unexpected events.  The fears and anxieties that are arising are simply the mind’s attempts to find meaning and take comfort in understanding.  Don’t worry about your worries.

Encourage effective coping. Maybe this is not the time to take to Twitter or Facebook and rant about everything that is wrong with the world.  Focus on being the light in a time of darkness. Breathe deep and commit random acts of kindness.  Take a step back and get the wider view.

Recover a sense of normalcy in your life. If you haven’t in the past spent large amounts of time neck-deep in politics, be cautious about submerging yourself into it now.  Swim out of the deep end of political rhetoric and take a walk, listen to music, follow your usual routines. Get back to focusing on chores and the kid’s extracurricular activities.  Rest and restore your energy; you’ve earned it. Listen to a stress relieving hypnosis audio. If, upon awakening, you find your resiliency muscle is in need of a workout, consider referring yourself to a helping professional.

The process of recovery and grieving is not an overnight miracle. However, through hypnosis, changes occur more rapidly than without. It is important to build up your ability to bounce back and to make the shift from survivor to thriver!

The good news is our forefathers had the wisdom to ensure we only go through this process once every four years.