Feeling Down Post-Election? Tap into Your Resilience Reserves

Since Tuesday, I have heard from patients, friends, and co-workers who are having a difficult time processing the outcome of the election. While I cannot make your pain go away, I want to share some thoughts on how to stay strong during this challenging time. You are more resilient than you know, and now is the moment to tap into your resilience reserves.

1. Get Out of Bed

As tempting as it may be to hide under your duvet and not go to work or class, this will only exacerbate how bad you feel. Maintaining your routine during a difficult time is one of the best ways to get through it. Make your bed. Brush your teeth. Take your exams. Go to the office. Attend to your responsibilities. You will feel stronger within your stress.

2. Hit the Trail

Take inspiration from that image of Hillary Clinton hiking in the woods with her dogs two days after the election. Nature is one of the best remedies for heartbreak and sadness.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Inhaling a tub of ice cream, drinking tequila, and staying up late may numb the pain in the moment but erode the resiliency reserves you need. Prioritize sleep, eating well, and exercise. You are in charge of these choices. On that note…

4. Recognize What You Can and Can’t Control

There are events and things in life that are beyond your control. Focus your time and energy on what you have control over — like your actions, your attitude, your generosity, and your forgiveness.

5. Be the Change

Embrace learning mode and action mode, not hate mode. When difficulty arises, stress-hardy people ask themselves, “What can I learn from this?” Along these lines, be informed. Don’t rely on soundbites and social media. Make the extra effort to seek out reliable sources.

6. The Power of Words

Use language that reflects your values and that empowers you. Language that communicates helplessness, hopelessness, and hate undermines resilience and progress.

7. Be Your Best Self

If there was ever a moment to be the best version of yourself it is now. If you embrace compassion, empathy, tolerance and integrity, it will bring out the best in others. Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz’s letter to his employees captures the value of compassion at this critical moment:

Start today by recognizing the power we have to walk in someone else’s shoes, to demonstrate understanding, and to strip away the differences that divide us. Let’s each embrace the universal virtues of respect and dignity, refusing to allow the hatred on cable news, the ugliness of our politics, and the lack of political role models for our kids to define us and to dictate how we treat each other.

8. Focus on the Future

There is no benefit in wallowing in why or what if. For your friends, for your family, for your country and perhaps most importantly, for those you don’t know, be a force that helps our country move in a positive direction. Every year, two years and four years, you have the Constitutional privilege to vote again.

As Schulz concludes:

Rise above this moment to be the person that makes a positive difference in your neighborhood and community. Be the person who makes your family proud. Be the person who embodies the promise of America so others may see and feel the possibilities that come with being an American.

I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman