7 tips for surviving post-election blues

The other night I had a nightmare about Steve Kornacki.

I’ve never met the gentleman. You may know who he is. He’s the go-to guy on MSNBC News who explains how and why this state is blue for Democrats in the presidential election and another state is red for Republicans.

I saw Mr. Kornacki a zillion times on TV during the long, long, long, and—I just have to add—the longest election season ever in the history of the universe.

Steve Kornacki of MSNBC News.

Steve Kornacki of MSNBC News.

With a boyish, bespectacled countenance, the sleeves of his pale blue shirt rolled up, the knot of his tie slightly askew, he taps the tip of his right forefinger on states shown on a special electronic U.S. map. As if by magic, the states flip at his touch from blue to red or red to blue. Mr. Kornacki’s got all sorts of facts and figures jammed into his noggin. He really gets excited over polls, the color of states and election jumble and mumble.

In my nightmare, Mr. Kornacki set aside his election predictions and instead gleefully tapped his forefinger on every U.S. state in an exciting quest to identify a new home suitable for me and my failing mental condition.

He finally found the ideal location in a remote area of Louisana where there are hot, humid, sweaty, smelly swamps and giant, fanged mosquitoes and big, ugly snakes, grumpy alligators, and a colony of redneck zombies. None of which I like. But I did like: No Internet access. No TV reception. No postal deliveries of campaign propaganda, no nasty political squabbles by Facebook users, no incessant tweets about politics right or wrong, no water-fountain arguments.

Hmmm, the swamps of Louisiana. Sounds tempting.

{Don’t forget to take the short poll at the end of this blog}

The nightmare—and I’m thinking now with my own shrink think—had less to do with mosquitoes, snakes and zombies than escaping to some place where I can forget Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump.

And forget about banning Muslims. Missing emails. A Mexican wall. The Clinton Foundation. Megyn Kelly’s blood. Mexican rapists. 3 a.m. tweets. Billy Bush and the word I’ll never write. Evil Russian hackers. FBI shenanigans. Nuclear bombs. World War III. And so on and on and blah, blah, blah.…

It’s all too much for my tiny brain. My senses are squishing out.

I’m exhausted by news commentators letting candidate surrogates blather on about the horrendousness of the opponent rather than answering questions. I’m haunted by the frightening image of Kellyanne Conway’s ironed-on smile. My eyes have been burned out by harsh camera lights reflecting off Rudy Giuliani’s bright-white teeth. I don’t care what Bill Clinton did or didn’t do or should have done a quarter of a century ago.

Egads, I just realized I’m name-calling and mocking. I’ve become just like them!

I now suffer from a mental condition: election blues or, as it will become after November 8, post-election blues. Chances are, you do, too. But you just ain’t figured it out yet.

You suffer from the illness if you have one or more of these symptoms:

Symptoms:

  • Heart thumping like a jackhammer when you hear the words “election,” “Democrat” or “Republican.”
  • The sudden desire to throw up when you see one or the other candidate on TV.
  • Hiding in closets and under your desk from friends and coworkers who want to gab election speak.
  • The uncontrollable urge to model a candidate’s behavior, Mr. Trump in particular, by lashing out at anyone who doesn’t agree with your views on politics, business matters, lifestyle, religion, the value of women, issues of sexual preference and marital fidelity, or choice of KFC chicken and other fast foods.
  • Tossing, turning, sleepless nights. Fear of nodding off lest you dream of Steve Kornacki mapping out your future.

Although my flippant style may give the appearance that I write in jest, election blues is actually a real condition of mental distress brought about by staying abreast of intense campaigns and taking candidates at their word, even as outrageous as those words might be. It’s a stress thing and it will linger into post-election times.

A mid-October study by the American Psychological Association (APA) learned that 52 percent of American adults believe the 2016 election has been a significant source of stress for them. For Milllennials: 56 percent. Generation Xers: 45 percent. For Baby Boomers: 50 percent.

Unfortunately, all of the unleashed negativity in this campaign has carved a huge, deep, jagged, and dangerous gash in the American psyche. This was brought into stark view with the outcome of the New York Times/CBS News’ final pre-election survey released a few days ago. The results found that 82 percent of voters are “disgusted” by the state of politics and the majority felt it’s unlikely either Mr. Trump or Ms. Clinton will be able to sew the country back together. Is Humpty Dumpty dead, for good?

Regardless of whether all the shattered pieces can eventually be put together again, we can expect a weary, dreary prolonged period of bitterness, hate, lies, and malice between Congress and the White House; Republicans and Democrats; Facebook users; Twitter advocates, individual Americans; and even husbands of one political stance and their wives of opposite views.

None of this is good for the heart, blood pressure, family life or dogs—people get angry more easily and kick their pooches. (Well, I made up the dog thing, but there is a high anger component.)

And don’t forget about scary nightmares. They’ve already swooped like vampires down upon some Americans. Case in point: In an article last month about therapists reporting a spike in patients with election anxiety, Time magazine related the experience of a 38-year-old Brooklyn woman who dreamed about Donald Trump. “All of a sudden the room is dark and he was looming over me,” she said. “It was frightening and I think I woke up yelling,”

I haven’t read or heard any anecdotes about Hillary-related nightmares, but I suspect she has kept many Americans wide awake far into the wee hours.

The APA offers advice on how to combat the blues. I’ve listed them below along with my own personal interpretation of each APA tip:

  1. Avoid getting into discussions about the election. Walk around with the tips of your forefingers inserted firmly in your ears so you hear nothing.
  2. Limit your media consumption. Paste a big poster of playful kittens over your TV screen and stare hard at the kitties until your nerves calm and you’re not tempted to turn on the news.
  3. Turn off your cell phone’s news feed; take a digital break. Stomp your cell phone to a billion pieces to get rid of all the news apps.
  4. Take some time for yourself, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that you enjoy. Escape to the nearest tavern.
  5. Read just enough to stay informedFocus on Mickey Mouse and Archie comic books.
  6. Channel your concerns to make a positive difference on issues you care about. Buy a bunch of string and roll it into a giant ball to throw at people who want to talk politics.
  7. Remember, life will go on. Yes, so it will. And you’ll probably not end up drinking swampy margaritas with zombies and me in Louisiana.

My final word…that is, my final words: Good luck. Good times to you. Stay healthy physically and mentally. Blessings to Steve Kornacki. And, remember, get good rest…the next presidential election is only a mere four years away.

—30—

 

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