Dealing with Election Stress, Redux for Those on the Losing Team

The week after the election is really hard. I’m going with my Temporary High Stress Coping Plan, which is basically this:

1. Eating lots of things that just SMACK of holy nutrition, such as broccoli and carrots and eggs and bananas and smoothies and yogurt and blueberries and salmon. Making sure I get plenty of protein, because that seems to help. Making sure I eat nice big quantities, because a full stomach is comforting: I think it triggers a biological “everything is okay” feeling. Hunger causes stress, as it ought to for survival purposes.

2. Having on hand any edibles/drinkables that are happy and supportive. Cookies. Vodka. Chocolate bars. Cheese popcorn. Bailey’s Irish Cream. Good dips. Potato chips. Drambuie. Smoked almonds. Get it, gurl.

3. Exercising. It’s good for reducing stress. But it’s hard to do while stress-nauseated and existentially discouraged. So I don’t beat myself up if I can’t make myself do it; I do remind myself that it has been helpful in the past. Sometimes I say to myself, “Listen, just set the treadmill to, like, 1.3 mph and let your feet drag resentfully for five minutes.” Then once I’m ON the treadmill, I start to feel a little better and that makes me crank up the speed. I tell myself I can stop anytime, so that I don’t feel as inclined to rebel.

4. “Everything is going to be all right” music sometimes helps, but I’m not finding it very helpful right now. It feels like a promise no one has the ability to make at this point. I’m leaving it on the list because maybe you are reading this list much later, and applying it to a different sort of stress. In which case I recommend Odds Are by The Barenaked Ladies. Trudee mentioned it in the comments section awhile back, and I’ve been using it as therapy ever since. Also Tonight, Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae: La la la, whatever; la la la, it doesn’t matter; la la la, oh well; it’s all right.

5. Thinking of this as a literal physical illness that will pass. I’ve used this in the past when there’s been a confrontation or stressful situation I can’t stop thinking about, and I’m queasy with adrenaline: I think of it as being sick, and I remember how on other occasions I have felt this way and then recovered. I have to suffer through it for awhile, but it’s not permanent. This is not helping as much right now, when I don’t know on which approximate date to pin my hopes of relief.

6. Finding distractions, when possible. Exciting books. Riveting TV series. Good phone games. I downloaded AlphaBetty Saga, which is sort of like Candy Crush and sort of like Scrabble. I’m watching Love, which I’m finding mesmerizing and uncomfortable in a very distracting way. I don’t know yet if I’d recommend it. There’s a lot of crude/naked/awkward. Yesterday I worked on the CSS, a stressful financial-aid form some colleges require in addition to the FAFSA; I figured I was miserable anyway and might as well be doing something miserable.

7. Finding happy evidence of Good Humans, when possible. Museums. Trick-or-treating. Playgrounds. Animal shelters.

8. Finding things to look forward to. I like to think about Thanksgiving recipes, and Christmas. If you have the budget room, I suggest ordering/buying a few fun things (a book you’re on the waiting list for at the library; new pjs; sequined shoes). Post-election presents, as a reward for surviving.

9. Doing practical things, if any. Sometimes there aren’t any. This time I found it comforting and helpful to write checks: ACLU, American Refugee Committee, Planned Parenthood, It’s a drop in the bucket, but it IS a drop, and it’s IN THE BUCKET.

25 thoughts on “Dealing with Election Stress, Redux for Those on the Losing Team

  1. Celeste

    This weekend I will do some things that remind me that life goes on. One is to clean out my garden, the other is some volunteer work on a website for our music boosters. And yes, sending the ACLU some money today helped me feel better.

  2. sooboo

    Sending money to ACLU, Planned Parenthood and The Southern Poverty Law Center. You are so right that eating properly and regularly is important. Yesterday I drank so much coffee on an empty stomach while texting with friends, that when I stood up, I almost passed out. I am also working in my yard and picking up trash around my neighborhood. A drop in the bucket is still a drop in the bucket. I love that so much.

  3. Mtbakergirl

    Swistle- I’ve been reading your website for years and it has truly been a balm to my new mum soul. Thank you for your creation of a steady safe place. I don’t even live in the us but as a mother to daughters and a nasty woman myself I am devastated to see how far we still have to go in the drive for inclusion, equality and dignity for all people. My coping strategy is to hold tightly to the belief that this will lead to political action on an unprecedented level and the ability to look back in years to come and believe that this was the last horrible throws of racism, misogyny and intolerance. Love will win and I will get out of my comfort zone and join the fight.

  4. Jesabes

    After you posted last week, I downloaded AlphaBetty Saga! It has been enjoyable.

    Also, my husband donated to the Children’s Defense Fund yesterday in my name and it made me feel a little better.

  5. Lemon

    I am trying to channel my anger productively. Signed up for monthly contributions to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I also realize that I need to start actually paying for journalism – it matters and we are going to need quality journalism more than ever now. We already subscribe to the NYTimes and support PBS, but added local NPR station and The Guardian.

    I am also finding solace with the Pantsuits on Facebook and trying to breathe, stay centered, and stay hydrated.

    Lastly, I ordered a few books for my kindergartner with tears in my eyes – he has become aware of politics now and I want to start by celebrating the successes of our system. (And if the Supreme Court changes the way I suspect it may, the impacts will be long felt – I want my kids to understand that politics is for everyone and that they have a voice.)

    Thanks as always for your amazing writing, Swistle!

  6. Jenny

    Another good reminder.

    It’s been a shitty few days. I am just sad. And every time I start to think it won’t possibly be as bad as I fear (and it can’t because I fear it is going to be REALLY bad!), I start to think of the vice president and the cabinet and I just get sick all over again.

    I am avoiding almost all political news (to the point where I was shocked that the combined difference in Wisconsin, PA, and MI was just over 100,000).

    I need to consider some donations to groups. As one person wrote above, I did buy an online Washington Post subscription for the full price a few weeks ago. They’ve done some good work and they have earned my money.

  7. Jenny Grace

    I’m too sad to cope, even. I’ve been drifting through work this week in a fog, randomly crying.
    Avoiding the news at all costs, because I just can’t stand to hear that man’s voice. I finally had to ask my husband which propositions in CA passed, because I had no idea.
    I’ve donated to the ACLU and to Planned Parenthood.
    I’ve bought quite a few things this week, but I’m not sure if they will actually make me feel better when they get here. I HOPE so, anyway.
    Exercise has helped.
    And benadryl at bedtime to keep me sleeping deeply.
    And baby snuggles.
    Although, one of the reasons I feel so very anxious is my children. This is the world that we are creating for them? I am so troubled.

  8. Suzanne

    Kind of along the lines of exercise/distractions/doing miserable things since you’re miserable anyway, I have been throwing myself into chores. Raking. Cleaning/reorganizing the pantry. Cleaning the oven and the washing machine. Laundry. Etc. I am giving myself bonus points because the return to chaos/mess for each is so inevitable.

    I have also found poetry to be deeply soothing. So many poets who express my feelings better than I can. So many people who have felt lost/hopeless in the PAST (which also helps – knowing that they got through it too) and whose words and hope feel like a warm arm around my shoulders.

  9. Jenny

    The only thing that’s been keeping me going is making plans for the Resistance, right where I am. Where to donate — Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, our local homeless shelter — but also where to give my time. Planning to disobey and protest laws I believe to be immoral. Planning to teach my students that other cultures have value. To affirm that love and justice are real. And so forth.

  10. Joanne

    I liked Love, reluctantly. I also liked Casual and I really enjoyed Good Girls Revolt, even though I don’t know anyone who has seen it and it’s driving me crazy! I love this list, thanks so much. This week I looked into how to donate tampons or pads to homeless women, I saw this video a few weeks ago about this Public Health Issue that is never addressed, and I found this website, so I am sending supplies to it and hoping for the best.

  11. Grace

    My son’s school had a Veterans Day concert last night and that was surprisingly soothing. They recognized veterans in the audience, sang patriotic songs and waved little flags. There was a slideshow with relatives of the students who are serving in the armed forces as well as past veterans from students’ families. I was a little worried about how it’d all go down–I know the audience had strong supporters on both sides of the election. They ended with a cute chant thing and by the very end, the audience was chanting, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” For just a little bit, we were all okay.

  12. Erica

    I just had to say that #1 made me very proud of myself because my move has also been to stuff myself with broccoli and raw almonds I AM DEVELOPING SWISTLE-IAN INSTINCTS.

  13. Alexicographer

    Yes. I have set up regular donations to Planned Parenthood, ACLU, HRC, SPLC, NAACP, and a local organization that works to help many of the newly arrived Latinos in my community.

    Just after the election, someone spray-painted graffiti about the value(lessness) of African Americans near where I work (in a city much of which was built by the descendants of slaves working for the white elites of that era in a context where choices for those workers were particularly few), and I’m trying to figure out how one responds to that sort of thing in one’s own community, beyond the above (donating money). Of course the graffiti itself has been removed, but that doesn’t undo the act.

  14. Ruby

    I donated to Planned Parenthood! I couldn’t donate very much, but it’s something.

    I went to the grocery store the day after the election and bought healthy snacks, not-so-healthy eating-my-feelings snacks (Halloween candy was still on sale!), and alcohol.

    I gave myself permission to take a day or two off from work, if I need to. (I’m a substitute teacher so theoretically I can take days off whenever; I just don’t get paid for the days I don’t work.) So far I haven’t needed or wanted to–it’s good stay busy and I feel like I’m doing a good thing by Educating America’s Youth–but it’s nice to know that I can.

  15. Erin

    I have the opportunity through my job to set up payroll deductions to charities of my choosing. I have donated previously but not for the past few years. I just set up a donation to Planned Parenthood. Thank you for this post.
    Also, Swistle, I have been reading your blog for years and years, but I don’t often comment. I just wanted to say how comforting I find your words. Can we maybe convince you that you have a future in politics?

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