Due to the Trump election, many New Yorkers experienced a reaction of shock toward politics never felt in their lifetime. Today, almost 9 months later, many are still feeling the impact the election has had on their daily lives. For some, this has resulted in an increase in depression and anxiety including feelings of worthlessness, helplessness and hopelessness.
For many, the election was a panic catalyst, a reminder that a large part of life is not in our control. Panic manifests as insomnia, difficulty concentrating, diminished work performance, compulsions, isolation and alcohol abuse. For women, the election highlighted the pain of our inequality. It has heightened warranted anger and frustration. For some, it has also been a reminder of family abuse and childhood trauma, ready to show up as a distraction in our day to day lives.
Even in times of crisis, panic is not an optimal place from which to operate. In the most desperate of times, we as individuals need stability and a sense of control. But how do we maintain this in a post election world? My answer - Let's look at the people who Are thriving despite the political climate. I challenge clients to look around and find evidence of women who are excelling in their careers, people who have found tremendous callings and a sense of purpose, people who have been tremendous agents of change and advocacy for those that need help. When we are feeling helpless, we can always start by looking for evidence of strength.
It's also easy to get caught up in the panic making that is the American media. While staying current on events that matter can be empowering, indulging on junk media as a time suck is a distraction. For many, it has been a year of embarrassment, shame and guilt. I encourage anyone experiencing panic about the political climate to consider cutting back on junk media as a form of detox. This can also include limiting conversations about political panic. It's important to remember your time is valuable. A media detox is a way to recommit to your worth as a person. Saying "I don't have time for that" takes back the power in your day and opens you up to more valuable experiences. When you are feeling worthless, focus on the parts of your life that are valuable to you.
The experience of panic is something that exists when we think about the future. Anxiety disorders develop from an anticipation that something bad is going to happen. Unless there is something directly in front of us that is a threat or danger, panic is not something we should practice or encourage. In a sense, panic without an immediate threat is a type of indulgent thought of something that isn't real. While I understand that Donald Trump is very real, I also understand there is little in my day to day I can do to impact our President. What I can do is encourage individuals to shift their focus toward hope rather than panic, to build plans based on dreams rather than fear. Not only is that a sign of resilience, but it also makes for a much more enjoyable day.
How are you finding relief from panic and anxiety today?