Turn post-election grief into positive action

November 12, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

Have you ever felt like a life event physically punched you in the stomach?

The feeling of hopelessness and grief can be incredibly profound. Experiencing a loss can make it hard to function.

A lot of Americans experienced that this week after the presidential election.

“If you were hoping for a Hillary Clinton win, there’s a tremendous amount of grief and loss because it was such an incredible surprise and upset,” said M. Joann Wright, Ph. D., director of clinical training and anxiety services, Linden Oaks at Edward.

“For Trump supporters to see how many people are protesting his win and the petitions calling for the Electoral College electors to cast their votes for Clinton, that’s upsetting,” Wright said.

One step toward feeling better is to get involved, she said. Channel your anger and sadness into positive action, such as joining an organization that will help the country heal and further the cause you support.

“Anytime a loss is surprising like this, it really makes it far more devastating,” Wright said. “Whether it’s a layoff or someone breaking up with you, those sudden losses are difficult.”

When you’re grieving, self-care becomes paramount. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Keep your alcohol consumption in check.

These tips may also help you dig out:

  • Call a friend. Don’t deal with your feelings alone. Lean on your support network, said Tracy Collander, L.C.S.W., executive director of behavioral health, Linden Oaks at Northwest Community Healthcare. “Schedule time to focus and use the support of friends and family who can help you through it,” Collander said.
  • Get moving. Exercise can do wonders for your mental state. It’s even better if you exercise outdoors.
  • Get real. Consider what’s making you feel anxious. “Evaluate the evidence of what you’re afraid might happen and what’s realistically going to happen,” Collander said. “Get the facts.”
  • Let yourself grieve. Don’t push those feelings of grief to the side. “Accept the painful experience and lean into it. Running away from it is just going to make the pain worse,” Wright said. “Acknowledge that it’s there, recognize that it hurts and see it for what it is.”
  • Write it down. Journaling allows you to separate your feelings on paper. When you can identify thoughts and feelings that are bothering you, you start to uncover the underlying causes — and the healing process can begin.

There are times when it helps to have the insight of a mental health professional. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a counselor if you need to talk.

At Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, we treat the whole person—physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Learn more.

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