by Rami Henrich, LCSW
The days following the 2016 US Presidential Election were difficult for many people. No matter which candidate you supported, you may have found yourself overwhelmed by distressing news reports, tense conversations with loved ones, and your own complicated feelings. Now with the inauguration over and the new administration taking shape, many continue to feel distress, confusion, fear, anger and uncertainty.
LifeWorks is an explicitly inclusive therapy practice that welcomes all people. We know how painful the past year has been for many individuals in the populations we serve. Whether you are feeling frozen and frightened, angry, apprehensive, depressed, sullen, emboldened, or an intense and unpredictable combination of various emotions, here are a few things you can do to help yourself stay grounded, resilient, and open—now and in the future.
- Know that you are not alone with your feelings.
Fear and helplessness can be extremely isolating, especially if it seems as though those around you don’t understand your experience or share your perspective. Remember that you are not alone. Your emotions, however strong or volatile, are valid and yours. There are many in the US and around the world who share your feelings.
- Seek company with friends and family with whom you feel safe.
Surround yourself with supportive, compassionate loved ones. Cultivate a community that allows for safe dialogues. During difficult periods, time spent with those you care about can provide you with a renewed sense of energy and remind you that you have others to lean on.
- Engage in building your community.
Your community is larger than your circle of friends and family members. Look for ways you can get involved in your neighborhood, your city, or even your state. No matter where you are, there is likely an organization nearby that needs your support and can offer volunteer work in line with your values. If you can’t find the organization or volunteer opportunity you’re looking for, consider ways you can fill that void in your community. Many people find positive, community-building work to be deeply validating and empowering.
- Get involved in productive, life-affirming activities.
Regardless of the news or your perspective on politics, you always have the ability to stay connected to your inner sources of strength. Focus on activities that allow you to feel purposeful, engaged, and fulfilled. Involve yourself in activities that give you a sense of vibrancy and hope. For example:
- Move your body.
Dancing, hiking, physical exercise, yoga, meditation, and other activities that directly involve your body can help you harness and release anxious thoughts and feelings. Give yourself time to engage in the physical activities that help you feel grounded, dynamic, and calm.
- Do something outside.
Nature is deeply soothing for some people. If you feel pent-up and on edge in an urban or suburban space right now, try spending some time in nature. Allow yourself to fully engage your senses, enjoy the present moment, and find wisdom and peace in the outdoors.
- Speak about your fears with a professional.
You may be feeling stuck and unsure about how you can look to the future with optimism. Therapy is a safe space for you to express what’s troubling you and to learn effective strategies to cope with feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety as they arise.
The World Needs You
No matter who you are, you are important. Your self-care matters. Fear can cloud our capacity to see a way forward. The steps listed here may help you return to yourself and gain a new sense of clarity about who you are and what comes next for you. The world needs your voice however you choose to express it. Even in silence or meditation, your awareness is important for the wholeness of the world.
You may be experiencing many different emotions right now. Remember that believing that you have the capacity to navigate whatever comes your way or to find help and community to support you in doing so is important. Reaching out to others can make a difference for you and those you care about.