Post-Election Stress: How to Handle the Next Four Years

By Anna Kleiner | 11/09/2016

Breathe.

The election is over. Whether your candidate won or lost, the vote’s been made and the next four years are ahead of us. It’s time to let go of all the tension of the past few months and turn our attention to what lies ahead – whether it’s the upcoming holidays, work, or other upcoming events.

But if you’re having trouble destressing—or accepting a loss—try these three things to get your life back to normal.

1. Get active in local politics.

The presidential election impacts the whole nation—but what about the elections that impact your own city and state? These can have just as big an impact too, if not more so. Even if your candidate won, local politics often do more to shape your day-to-day. It’s always a good thing to get involved in local politics, especially if there’s an issue or policy you feel strongly about. And if your candidate lost, you may feel even more of a drive to get involved on the local level.

Don’t wait for an election every four years to make a change. Start now.

2. Practice stress relief.

Post-election stress is a thing. And it happens even if your candidate wins. Everything in the past year has been building up to this day, and now it has come and gone. The tension is over—and all the energy you put toward checking polls and obsessively following news, and maybe even campaigning for your candidate has nowhere to go. It’ll taper off eventually, but it doesn’t happen overnight. To help get things back to normal, practice regular stress relief techniques to unwind. You probably have some time-proven techniques to relieve your stress, but here are some additional ideas:

3. Keep things in perspective.

This is especially important if your candidate lost. It can feel like the end of the world—and maybe even more so this year, when the media coverage has been so intense. But remember: while your candidate may have lost this election, it’s just four years until the next one.

And even if your candidate lost, check to see if your congressional candidate won their seat. The president is just one part of what drives the American government, and members of the House and Congress can have a big impact, too.

4. Unplug from the news

For many people, an election year means increased news coverage with sensational stories and round-the-clock coverage leading up to election day. Every day you tune in to find the latest polls and new stories about candidates and voter turnout. The news feeds this obsession and you begin to crave it, tuning in at every chance. But there is too much of a good thing, and can lead to unhealthy levels of attention. Now that the election is over, take a break from all the media coverage.

Take up a hobby or get active in a sport – put all that attention you devoted to the election to something else. Perhaps increase your activity level or renew that gym membership before the start of the new year. Your body (and your family) will thank you for the new obsession.

5. Travel

It’s easy to get consumed with post-election news coverage and the potential for what lies ahead in the next four years, and impending changes by the President-elect. But like your mother always told you, things aren’t as bad as they seem. A good way to get a fresh perspective is to travel internationally. Get out and visit other countries and see how other people live, work, and understand the political system of other nations. It will help to give a new view of the world, a different view of your own world. And depending upon how bad you’re feeling, maybe even some new options for relocating.