Election aftermath: how to cope should the candidate you voted for not take office

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s been a little over a week since the presidential election and for some, the results may be hard to accept, no matter what the outcome. While former Vice President Joe Biden is considered the President-elect but, there is still ongoing debate by President Donald Trump’s campaign. 

News 8 spoke with Dr. Danielle Henderson, a mental health expert at IU Health, about what you can do should the candidate you voted for not take office. 

Gillis: We’re talking about election aftermath. Former Vice President Joe Biden is now considered the President-elect. However, there is still an ongoing investigation from President Trump’s campaign.  How do we help people come to terms or come to an acceptance of an outcome that they may not agree with or be happy with? 

Henderson: I think that’s a really excellent and important question. I think one thing that comes to mind is viewing this as a process. Acceptance will probably take some time. The one piece of advice that I have…or the main thing that I recommend…is focusing on the things that you do have control over.

Questions like: What are some of the things that I can make in my space, of in my area? What are the impacts I can make with my family, my neighborhood and community? Are there efforts that I can support on a local or state level–focusing energies in both areas? Also, thinking about self-reflection and you as a person. So, as each day unfolds, think about your values and how you can live those values out through thoughts and actions and by taking care of yourself each day. And how to stay present for yourself and other people you love.

Another big thing, too. Because a lot of emotions were riding on this campaign and your chosen candidate, it’s important to figure out ways to minimize outsourcing your happiness. Remind yourself you have the final say in what makes you happy and what you find joy in. 

Gillis: In terms of processing information, people might accept it now then they might move to being angry or saddened by this or disappointed in terms of what may happen. Can you talk about the behavior change process in terms of emotions?

Henderson: I think that’s a really good point. It’s definitely going to change and evolve. Today, you might experience acceptance or a level of content and then maybe tomorrow or even later today you might notice feelings of anger or frustration or disappointment. Maybe even disbelief about what’s happening. Wanting to change it or thinking there is something you can do to make a change in it or some change could eventually happen. I think these are all realms of ways of coping with this type of news. 

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 5 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Instagram @reportergillis and Facebook @DrMaryGillis.


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