Shortly after Abraham Lincoln was elected on Nov. 6, 1860, a girl from Alabama, Sarah Espy, documented her considerations in her diary. She wrote that she felt “grieved,” and defined why. “For it’s thought now to be certainty that Lincoln…and that the Southern States are going to withdraw from the Union. In that case, it’s the starting of woe.”
Whereas the actual considerations change, each election triggers misery for some individuals. That definitely held true for the earlier two presidential elections: Many People have been deeply upset following the victories of Barack Obama in 2008 and of Donald Trump in 2016.
Signs of melancholy – unhappiness, loneliness and fatigue – appear to be frequent responses to electoral loss. This will show to be a very widespread phenomenon within the aftermath of the 2020 election, given the nation’s contentious political divide.
Folks don’t sometimes speak about politics in the identical sentence as grief and woe, however the two are extra carefully linked than we’d notice. I’m a political scientist who research how psychological well being shapes the way in which residents assume and interact with politics. In my work, I’ve discovered that residents who are suffering from melancholy are much less politically engaged. I’m at present exploring how politics affect residents’ psychological well being, particularly within the wake of an election.
The politics of melancholy
Psychologists have lengthy acknowledged melancholy as a frequent response to loss. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously named it as one of many 5 phases of grief, together with denial, anger, bargaining and in the end, acceptance. Different analysis has since questioned this idea of phases, discovering as an alternative that some individuals expertise only one or two of those feelings.
Whereas students have written about anger and denial in relation to politics, we all know far much less about melancholy. Proof I’ve compiled suggests it’s comparatively frequent.
For instance, a 2004 Pew Analysis Heart survey discovered that 29% of Kerry supporters felt depressed within the wake of George Bush’s reelection and a 2008 Related Press ballot discovered 25% of Republicans have been upset following the election of Barack Obama. Polling information from 2010, 2012 and 2016 reveal comparable outcomes.
This information captures the depth of feelings we really feel from electoral loss. The web site PsychCentral famous that visitors to their “5 Levels of Grief & Loss” web page was up by 210% the day after Hillary Clinton misplaced the election in 2016 – and their hottest article was “Therapeutic after the Election.” Equally, Google Tendencies information on grief-related searches spiked following the 2008 and 2016 elections.
Google Tendencies, Creator supplied
The proof is evident: Many People really feel depressed after elections.
Dealing with post-election blues
There isn’t a straightforward solution to make melancholy disappear, however there are actions we will take to manage.
Specializing in wholesome residing will assist restore your vitality. Give your self breaks from the information – and politics. Get sufficient sleep, eat nicely and get some train.
Restrict time on social media, or higher but, sign off altogether for a couple of days. Whereas it’s a solution to join with different individuals and share data, it’s additionally a key supply of political misinformation, echo chamber conversations and polarized pondering. General, an excessive amount of time on Fb or Twitter can intensify anxiousness and melancholy.
Hunt down social help. Speak to a trusted member of the family, good friend, neighborhood chief – or discover a social help group in your space. Whereas that could be a bit tougher in a pandemic, with the necessity for social distancing, it’s nonetheless potential to choose up the cellphone, get on a FaceTime name or arrange a digital appointment with a psychological well being skilled. But additionally keep in mind Goldilocks’ rule: Social isolation intensifies detrimental emotions, however so does spending an excessive amount of time speaking about issues.
Affirm the worth of democracy. Electoral loss is horrifying as a result of it means having to cope with undesirable or disliked insurance policies – and may create excessive polarization. However accepting loss is an element and parcel of democracy. One solution to bridge political variations is to affix a gaggle, corresponding to Constructing Bridgers, which brings collectively residents with various political beliefs to have interaction in structured conversations.
When you’ve accepted the result, get entangled with politics. Elections are simply the beginning of what’s a posh policymaking course of. Taking part is empowering and can assist alleviate psychological misery. There are numerous methods to contribute, from contacting elected officers, protesting, working for native workplace or donating cash to becoming a member of advocacy organizations or beginning a political dialogue group.
In the end, democratic societies choose leaders by way of voting, however one unsavory a part of the method is that many voters don’t get their most well-liked alternative.
Being on the shedding facet of an election might create mistrust within the system and dissatisfaction with democracy. My analysis exhibits that it hits us emotionally, too. However as an alternative of letting damage sideline you from politics, use it to gas the fervour you felt earlier than the election.
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Christopher Ojeda doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.