After November 8: How to Feel Better Post-Election Season

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15906279030_4191f33357_zYesterday morning, I woke up sad. And a little scared. I couldn’t remember why. My head felt fuzzy and my eyes heavy, as if I had been crying. I felt a little…hungover, but I hadn’t indulged the night before. As I lay there puzzling it out, my husband said “I can’t believe it happened.” And then I remembered.

So, for a little hair of the dog, I went on social media. My friends posts about the night before, the comments about what happened, the fear, the shame, even the good-hearted ribbing or rejoicing by those who celebrated made me feel nauseous.

Even if your national, state, and local representative won, you might still be suffering from the constant onslaught of negativity and the suspense of Tuesday night’s results show or be scared about the uncertainty staring us in our bleary eyed faces.

I was assigned this piece several weeks ago: write about recovering from an election hangover no matter the results. It was in the middle of a light piece, giving you humorous tips on self care. Jokes about “walks of shame” and such. And now I can’t continue with that draft.

This morning when I’m feeling a lot more sore and tender, I can give advice, mean it, and do my best to follow it.

So here it is:

Treat your body with care. Just like flu season, your body has been under constant attack. From political ads, debates, memes, canvassers, et al. Even well intentioned as some were, they still took a toll. Everybody wanted your time and attention. Wanted to predict, discuss, argue, commiserate. Your body is vulnerable now and you are feeling the effects. Drink water. Take a vitamin. Eat something healthy. Do gentle exercise. Read some poetry. Play with your kids. It’s hard and sounds silly, I know. I’m the first to find a donut, a blanket, and a couch on days like this, but that will only increase feelings of stagnation and despair. November 8 was full of jokes about people self-medicating to get through the night, but we can’t drink alcohol to get through till the next election cycle. We need to start recovering and building strength in order to construct a more perfect union.

That said, it’s okay to hide away for a little bit. Take a break from texting or social media or the news or even real live people. Most of us still have to go to work and interact with hundreds of people throughout the day. It’s okay to limit conversation to a smile and a nod. Something banal like the weather. You can say you aren’t feeling well and get back to work. You won’t be lying. If talk turns political, take out pictures of your child or pet. Or start talking about your latest workout. Then the person will say they aren’t feeling well and walk away. Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away so you have a bit of time before you have to navigate that dangerous territory.

But after we’ve stretched, babied our boo-boos, had our cups of tea or coffee, taken a walk, and shed some tears, it’s time to go to work. Look at how your county voted and research our elected officials. While we still don’t know whether our governor will be McCrory or Cooper (Cooper leads by less than 1 point,  but McCrory won’t concede until the 18th), there were some victories. For example, my county overwhelmingly vote to approve all four bonds, showing me that people still value museums, libraries, schools, and community colleges. I’ll hold on to that and maybe it will make me want to say hi to my neighbor again.

After other hangovers, people swear to change. When the effects wear off, so do the good intentions. Don’t let that happen this time. I’m talking to myself too when I say be a participant in your life and not a spectator. Join a cause (and actually attend the meetings). Buy diversified books and read them to your children. Write letters to your congressman. Donate to charities. Do whatever you can and do it graciously. And, while we recover, let’s dim the lights and talk softly.

What will you be doing to cure your election hangover?

Jennifer Brick is a freelance writer and former teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.




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