If your post-election week looked anything like mine, it was spent endlessly refreshing the news and staring at the electoral college map, wondering which presidential candidate would come out victorious. Your week revolved around the election, fearing and preparing for the worst. You wondered if this moment in time would ever end, when the winner would be announced, and what would happen after.
And you weren’t alone. On election night, Americans lost a combined total of 138,833,045 hours of sleep. Even before November 3rd, the election was on the minds of nearly 70% of American adults, who reported that it was a significant source of stress according to the American Psychological Association.
And if your week did look like mine, you felt a sense of relief on Saturday morning, when it was announced that Joe Biden had been elected the 46th President of the United States. The emotions you felt at that moment may have driven you to scream, to dance, to celebrate, or to call your friends and family.
No matter who you voted for, we can all agree that it has been a long and tiresome battle for the presidency. The election is over, but the stress and pressure that came with it are not.
Here are a few things you can do post-election to help yourself and others.
- Celebrate (or not)
The election is over, and the president-elect has been selected. You are allowed to have feelings! You should be acknowledging the moment, whether you’re celebrating or mourning. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends and your family, write in your journal, or post your thoughts on Twitter or Instagram (in a healthy and respectful manner). Emotions are meant to be expressed.
- Examine your mental health
As Americans in 2020, we’ve lived under conditions of stress the likes of which most of us have never endured before. Not only are we in a global pandemic, but we witnessed a difficult and lengthy election, filled with hate and partisanship. Truly stop what you’re doing right now and examine how you’re feeling. Consider scheduling a therapy session or taking time to practice mindfulness.
- Step away from the internet
If you’ve been addicted to the Internet this past week, you may want to consider taking a break. Turn off the news for a few hours; it’ll be there when you come back. Instead of engaging in arguments on Twitter and Facebook, log off and do something you enjoy.
- Check in with your friends and family
Your friends and family may be struggling to handle the stress of the election. If you can, check in with them and ask them how they’re doing. It’s always a possibility that they need someone to talk to.
- Eat well
I know I certainly was a culprit of binge-eating last week. Due to stress, I ate a lot, and most of it was junk food. If you did the same, this week you should set a goal to eat healthier. Don’t neglect your diet because eating well is essential to human survival and happiness. If you’re struggling with stress eating due to the election, here are some helpful tips. However, if you do find yourself eating for comfort, don’t be overly critical of your habits; sometimes, we all need a pick-me-up.
Get a good night’s sleep! As you already know, Americans lost a lot of sleep on election night, and a persistent lack of sleep can lead to chronic health issues. Not getting enough sleep can cause poor mood, low energy, and a general decrease in function. After all, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to make any tension melt away.
- Continue staying engaged
Lastly, channel your feelings, stress, and thoughts into creative outlets to put out into the world. Maybe you decided to phonebank or canvas in your neighborhood pre-election. Continue to do so! You have the power to create change through your actions.
Stay informed and volunteer with political and advocacy groups. Fight and stand up for what you believe in. Attend protests (and try to maintain social distancing while you do so). Take what you’ve learned and felt during this election season and use it to help the world.