This presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was one of the most contentious in recent history.
After a stressful year, Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States.
Trump supporters across the country celebrated the results while the mood among Clinton supporters can only be described as shock and awe.
Americans who voted for Clinton may find the stress of this presidential election is only just beginning.
How do you cope if your candidate has lost? What should you do if a close friend or relative is a rabid supporter of a president that you don’t like?
For starters, you can watch videos like this one:
Americans have cited this presidential race as more stressful than any other election. In a recent Harris Poll conducted for the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults 18 or older said the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. And in this case, the stress is equal opportunity.
“We’re seeing that it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican — U.S. adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election,” said Lynn Bufka, PhD, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy in a statement.
Among adults registered as Democrats, 55 percent cited this election as very or somewhat stress inducing compared to 59 percent of adults registered as Republicans.
The stress is only intensified by our use of social media. The political discussions that have erupted on social media have been a source of stress for 38 percent of adults. Online arguments and stories have divided friends and family and led to political unfriending.
Different generations report different levels of election related stress. Millennial and Matures say they are feeling more stressed than GenXers and Boomers.
We want our presidential candidates to be the best reflection of ourselves, said Dr. Pete Sulack, Founder of StressRX.com. When they fall short, it leaves us feeling confused and can trigger fight, flight or frozen response to stress.
People who say “Trump will never be my president” reflect the fight response. Those who say they are moving to Canada have a flight response. And anyone who refused to vote because they don’t trust either candidate is among the frozen.
“A little bit of stress is good thing, more stress starts to complicate things,” said Dr. Sulack.
Chronic stress can diminish your immune system, trigger high blood pressure, lead to obesity, premature aging and even cancer, he said. The key is to find ways to normalize that stress.
“Feelings come and go but we cannot continue to base our lives on our feelings,” said Dr. Sulack. Instead of feeling angry about the election results, take a deep breath and follow these three steps:
Unplug: don’t spend so much time watching the circus on television or reading comments about it on social media.
Unwind: get adequate rest and spend time relaxing. Make it a priority to invest in yourself.
Undo: help combat the effects of stress by eating healthy foods and developing other healthy habits. Instead of isolating yourself, connect with other people. Helping others in your community or supporting a cause you believe is a good way to normalize election induced stress.
With holiday season coming up, you may find yourself in the company of friends or relatives who don’t share your political opinions. According to Dr. Sulack, you have three choices: ignore them, engage them (though that rarely ends well) or give them grace.
“Understand that people have different opinions and values,” said Dr. Sulack. “Aristotle said, ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.'”
So maybe we can all learn to extend a little grace not only to our immediate family but to our American family.
“We have had a lot of elections in our country,” said Dr. Sulack. “We are American. So let’s unify in what we are.”