Dealing with Post Election Blues
It’s a week since Kenyans went through and electoral process to elect astute leaders who will be able to steer the country in the right direction, and as usual in any election their are winners and losers. Every election triggers distress for some people. Symptoms of depression – sadness, loneliness and fatigue – seem to be common responses to electoral loss. Psychologists have long recognized depression as a frequent response to loss. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously named it as one of the five stages of grief, along with denial, anger, bargaining and ultimately, acceptance. Other research has since questioned this concept of stages, finding instead that some people experience just one or two of these emotions.
How to cope with post election blues;-
There is no easy way to make depression disappear, but there are actions we can take to cope;
- Focusing on healthy living will help restore your energy. Give yourself breaks from the news – and politics. Get enough sleep, eat well and get some exercise.
- Limit time on social media, or better yet, log off altogether for a few days. While it’s a way to connect with other people and share information, it’s also a key source of political misinformation, echo chamber conversations and polarized thinking. Overall, too much time on Facebook or Twitter can intensify anxiety and depression.
- Seek out social support. Talk to a trusted family member, friend, community leader – or find a social support group in your area. But also remember Goldilocks’ rule: Social isolation intensifies negative feelings, but so does spending too much time talking about problems.
- Affirm the value of democracy. Electoral loss is scary because it means having to contend with unwanted or disliked policies – and can create extreme polarization. But accepting loss is part and parcel of democracy.
- Once you’ve accepted the outcome, get involved with politics. Elections are just the start of what is a complex policymaking process. Participating is empowering and can help alleviate psychological distress. There are many ways to contribute, from contacting elected officials, protesting, running for local office or donating money to joining advocacy organizations or starting a political discussion group.