Early in my career, I received a call at work from a young woman in crisis. She asked where she could place a baby for adoption. When I asked how far along her pregnancy was, I learned she had delivered her baby the night before in her dorm room…without the benefit of a doctor, midwife, hospital, prenatal care or family support. Fearful that her parents would find out, she refused my pleas to seek immediate medical care for her and her baby’s health.
Ballots were cast. Votes are in. A new president has been elected. Regardless of who you voted for, let’s face it, elections can be stressful.
Today, and in the weeks after the election, you and others around you, may be feeling particularly stressed as a response to the results. The stress and increased emotions can manifest differently in each of us, however, the presence of this stress within us is not to be underestimated. Immense and/or chronic stress can lead to anxiety, increased alcohol use, depression, and other serious health issues.
While these emotional responses are common and understandable, there are things that each of us can do to effectively cope and manage our stress. We have identified a number of strategies and resources to help our community members become and stay strong, resilient and well. Please find some helpful tips below.
Here are suggestions and tips to manage post-election stress (from the American Psychological Association):
- If the 24-hour news cycle of claims and counterclaims is causing you stress and/or upsetting you, limit your media consumption. Turn off the TV. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy.
- Avoid getting into discussions about the election results, especially if you think they have the potential to escalate to conflict. Be cognizant of the frequency with which you’re discussing the results with friends, family, or coworkers.
- Ruminating about what may happen in the future is not productive. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Consider volunteering in your community, advocating for an issue you support or joining a local group. Remember that there are opportunities for civic involvement.
- If you are having trouble focusing or even going about your routine due to fear, try writing down your worst post-election fears, then address them. If you write them down on a piece of paper, you can address them one by one. Fact check. Think about what is actually possible. Hopefully, this exercise will help you relax and find some peace.
- If you are experiencing a sense of panic, remember that very little will change overnight. Try to remind yourself that in the weeks to come, there will be very little immediate change for you and/or your family. The new president will not take office until January. And remember, our political system and the three branches of government mean that we can expect a significant degree of stability immediately after a major transition of government. Avoid catastrophizing, and maintain a balanced perspective.
- According to a recent American Psychological Association article, social media users were more likely to report increased stress related to the election. If using social media is increasing your stress and charging you to respond emotionally, take a break from social media to remove the stressor.
- Lastly, research shows that being a member of a faith community can provide important social support and comfort during stressful times. Faith can also help us to put events in proper perspective.
If you are still feeling very emotional, here are some additional resources below:
- Visit Healthy Minds Philly and take a free, 24/7, anonymous, online screening and learn about resources that exist to help you.
- Call the Philadelphia Warm Line, 855-507-WARM (9276) or 267-507-3945, to speak with a person who also has experienced times of emotional stress. Peers are available Tuesday-Friday from 4-7 p.m.
- Call our 24/7 Member Service Line, 888-545-2600, to learn about behavioral health services available in Philadelphia.
- Lastly, if you or someone you care about is in extreme emotional distress and may cause harm to themselves or others, please contact DBHIDS’ Suicide and Crisis Intervention Hotline at 215-686-4420. Trained suicide/crisis intervention professionals are available 24/7, 365 days a year to provide counseling, consultation, and referrals for people seeking assistance for acute psychiatric needs.
Again, if you are having a stressful reaction to the election, it’s important to keep a balanced perspective and help yourself or those around you to cope by utilizing some of the resources above.
Lastly, although we cannot predict exactly what’s ahead as we transition to a new president, we promise one thing will remain constant and that is DBHIDS continues to remain committed to improving the lives of Philadelphians both physically and mentally now and well into the future.
I lost my 23-year-old brother to suicide on Nov. 9, 2009. I was confused, hurt, angry, and really sad. I lost one of my best friends and what’s worse; I did not see it coming. He was never diagnosed with a mental health problem and, at the time, I did not recognize the signs as red flags.
September is National Preparedness Month. Over the next 30 days, we are encouraged to think about how to prepare for emergencies. While these may be situations that we cannot control, we can certainly prepare for them.
Most of us don’t think about emergency preparedness regularly. Most days we follow a regular routine. But emergency preparedness helps us most on the bad days that we can’t predict: the day when a natural disaster hits harder than expected, or when a candle falls over and starts a house fire, or when a winter storm knocks out power for a few days.