Sex & Relationships

5 Ways to Cope With Post-Election Stress This Holiday Season

When a Trump victory collides with the holiday season, people will try anything to find some peace of mind.

Photo Credit: TeodorLazarev/Shutterstock

“And then we wept,” is how some Americans might describe the days following the 2016 presidential election. In the weeks since Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States, protests have popped up around the nation. Petitions calling for a recount have been drafted. Canada’s immigration website went down, and then went back up. And that’s just coming from the dissident end of things. At the time of this writing, the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported 701 incidents of “hateful harassment” since Election Day. Immigrants, people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community have become prime targets for violent Trump supporters. Members of his white nationalist base have etched swastikas into playground equipment. His supporters at the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, have suggested that trolling Clinton supporters might even lead some to kill themselves.

Yeah, it’s been stressful. Adding fuel to that dumpster fire is the fact that the holidays are here. Some people have decided to call the whole season off for fear of having to interact with family and friends positioned on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Because this year, the conversation isn’t just political, it’s personal. But if we’re going to get through the next four years, we need to find ways to cope. Listed below are five things to help get you through. 

1. Try hypnosis.

Hypnotist Richard Barker is a very busy man these days. Since the election, his business is booming, a development likely caused by the upsurge in "election stress disorder." Some patients, he tells AlterNet, come in asking, "What the hell is happening to me. I'm falling apart." Others say, “The election is consuming me. I can't stop going on Facebook. I can't stop feeling pissed off.” Barker treats his patients by guiding them into a relaxed trance, then offering what hypnotists call guided suggestion. “People are going through what a hypnotist would know to be a normal cycle of depression,” he says. “Everything that we do has an emotion attached to it. All emotions are born from thoughts and thoughts happen in the subconscious mind… For me, to treat somebody with this, it's actually very easy.”

Of course, hypnosis can also be used for nefarious purposes.

“Trump is the best hypnotist I've ever seen, apart from Adolf Hitler,” Barker says, pointing out that throughout his campaign, Trump employed the same tools hypnotists are known to use: Power of language, embedded commands, pacing and suggestion. In fact, Trump's hypnotic powers might explain part of the upset people are feeling. “It’s been very emotional for people,” says Barker. While some of his regulars have returned to sort through their election-related stress, some newcomers have shown up seeking the same relief. Feelings of desperation, he explains, lead people to try new things. According to Barker, December is shaping up to be a pretty busy month.

2. Have (lots of) sex.

After 9/11, a new term was introduced: “terror sex.” The writer who coined the phrase was referring to the fact that when people are devastated and confused, it sometimes feels necessary to connect to others. And often, that connection can take a carnal turn. In the wake of one of the worst attacks on American soil in history, people were having more sex than ever. And it helped.

As sex columnist Dan Savage wrote the week after the 2016 election, “We may never eradicate racism and sexism and hatred. But fight it we will. And don't listen to anyone who tells you that music and dance and art and sex and joy are a distraction from the fight. They are a part of the fight.” Those who want to do their part at home can turn to their partner and say, “F*ck Trump. But f*ck me first.”

3. Talk to a therapist.

“I’ve been in private practice for 30 years, and I have never seen patients have such strong reactions to an election,” Sue Elias, a licensed clinical social worker in Manhattan, said in an interview with the New York Times. Many women, especially, have had a hard time stomaching the fact that a pussy-grabbing misogynist backed by a team of anti-choice extremists will be moving into the White House. BetterHelp, an online therapy resource, told Motherboard it has seen a 30 percent increase in signups over the past few weeks. The publication also reported that Crisis Text Line, a service that provides mental health support through mobile texting, has seen a twofold increase in volume since Election Day. If Trump’s victory has put you on the couch, don’t worry. You’re hardly alone.

4. Get a massage.

According to the Mayo Clinic, massage therapy can be used to treat anxiety, insomnia and stress. If you’re reading this from anywhere in America, you’re probably at least familiar with those symptoms. If you’ve ever had a massage, you know that the service can provide at least some temporary relief. At best, a massage will put you into a meditative state and allow you to better channel your stresses throughout the day. At worst, it gets you out of your house and away from your computer for at least 30 minutes. Brooklyn-based massage therapist Darcy Stockton has seen so many cases of “Trump anxiety” walk into his office, he started offering a discount. And if you don't want to spend the money, try getting someone who loves you to do you a solid. 

5. Log off social media.

According to the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.” Among the APA's tips to help people manage election-related stress is “limit your media consumption.” In other words, unplug. Turn off your newsfeed. Go for a walk. Watch a comedy on Netflix. In what’s now known as the Facebook Experiment, a team of Danish researchers found those who took a week off from social media were generally happier than those who logged on daily. Somewhere between the political rants, proliferation of fake news and incidents of harassment, our social networks started burning us out. So after you hit “unfollow,” do yourself a bigger favor and simply log out. Even if it's just for a day.

Carrie Weisman is a writer focusing on sex, relationships and culture.