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GHC_logo_3Tonight, turn off the news and take a walk.

Tomorrow, get involved.

That’s the gist of the advice from Dr. Jenna Behm-Lawton, a psychology instructor at Madison College, for dealing with the stress of the presidential campaign and the surprising result.

“A lot of people are anxious, especially given the surprise,” Behm-Lawton says. “There are obviously people who are pretty happy today too.”

For those who aren’t, though, exercise might be a good way to get through the rest of today.

“Exercise is the number one thing you can do to reduce stress,” Behm-Lawton says. That, and distract yourself.

“Unplug,” she says. “Especially with Facebook and social media, we just keep rehashing it and rehashing it.”

Behm-Lawton also cautions against the temptations to engage in unhealthy behaviors like drinking and stress-eating.

In the long term, Behm-Lawton says, it’s important to avoid “catastrophizing.”

“People think about the worst possible scenario,” she says. “A lot of people are stressed about what (Trump) might do, what that might mean for the country. What we should do is focus on what is.”

It’s also a good idea to find a way to get involved, she says.

“There’s nothing we can do to change (the 2016 election) now, but there are other elections coming up. Local elections, state elections,” she says. “Some people will go passive and say, ‘No one will listen to me anyway,’ and what happens is that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. There’s a thing called learned helplessness. If you think a situation will never change, what you think will happen is exactly what will happen. The only way to fail is to stop trying.”

It’s not just about elections, either; your stress over the election could be lessened by making a positive impact in your community.

“You could even get involved in education, in the schools, if there’s something you’re interested in in your neighborhood, get involved with that,” she says.

Involvement can be especially helpful if it leads to connections with like-minded people.

“Finding community support and finding people who are feeling similarly can help,” she says. “Getting involved makes you feel like you can do something about an uncontrollable situation.”

It’s also important for people on all sides of the election to recognize the feelings of others — including people of different ethnic groups, who may face different stressors in the months ahead.

“Different people feel stress differently. Those concerns are real,” she says. “Those anxieties are real and shouldn’t be slipped under the rug. There are problems that need to be addressed in the country and they’re not just going to go away.”

Written by Robert Chappell

Robert Chappell

Robert Chappell is associate publisher of Madison365.

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