Election stress?3 min read

November 21, 2016

It will have been 13 days since the election when this column runs, and I expect the palpable sense of heightened anxiety and stress on campus will continue to be felt by many. Similar to the aftereffects of a disaster or emergency, you may be experiencing intense and difficult emotions. You may be feeling shocked, lost, scared and more. You are not alone, and you are entitled to your feelings. Work on re-centering yourself in the coming days.
First, identify what you are feeling, which can be hard to sort out. Take time to be honest with yourself. Seek help from a friend, family member or psychological counselor to identify what is most troubling right now. There are helpful therapists and clinicians on campus at De Anza Psychological Services at 408-864-8868, or in the community at Santa Clara County Network of Care for Mental and Behavioral Health that are ready to assist you through this challenging time.
Second, reach out to others, especially those whose lives may become more vulnerable as a results of the elections such as Muslims, LGBT friends, immigrants and underrepresented individuals. Let them know you care about them.
Consider getting involved serving the community or donating to charities. Take action by helping at a local soup kitchen and invite friends to join you, especially over the holidays. Helping others is a great way to feel better yourself. .
Third, take time to unplug from news and media, which can incite a riot of emotions. Take a break, even if only for a couple of hours.
Invite a friend to walk, hike or bike, and laugh about neutral topics. Look into the National Park Service, which is now celebrating their 100th anniversary. Being out in nature is a great way to re-center yourself.
Watch a silly movie like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” or “Despicable Me” — love the minions; or read an escapism book such as those by J. R. Tolkien or C. S. Lewis. Listen to comfort music. For me, that’s James Taylor or the classical genre.
Check in with yourself often. Take time for simple things that support you when you feel stressed. Surround yourself with friends and family who offer comfort during challenging times. Laughter really can be the best medicine.
Come de-stress at Chill City on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the S Quad. Visit with the therapy dogs at Furry Friends and take time to color, blow bubbles and paint with DASB.
You are not alone. Practice self care. Reach out to others. Health Services, located by Police and Security, is here to help you. Take time for yourself. You are a valuable part of the college and we need all of us working together.
Further resources:
• The Jed Foundation released seven simple strategies for managing election stress.
• The American Psychological Association has a series of tips about how to cope with election anxiety.
• The Islamic Society of North America supports a mental health helpline and counseling site for youth and young adults experiencing post-election situations like islamophobia, mental health crises, and a need practical direction for possible situations.
• Nicole Silverberg on Medium lists places to volunteer time, donate items, and make donations if you feel frustrated or disenfranchised by the election results. The emphasis is on anti-racist and social justice causes.
Mary Sullivan is the Director of Health Education and Wellness, and can be reached at 408-864-8733 or at her email, sullivanmary@deanza.edu.

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