Why Some People in NJ are Still Freaking Out About the Election
Post-election stress continues to run high among New Jersey voters more than two weeks after Donald Trump won the presidential race.
"People are feeling stressed out in ways I've never seen before," said Rutgers University sociology professor Deborah Carr.
The outcome is tearing apart families and friendships and, she says, "people often find it hard to be in the same room as someone who voted for the candidate they opposed."
Carr pointed out that some the stress is driven by the fact that the person who was elected president has a demonstrated history of demeaning others, and some of the selections Trump is talking about adding to his cabinet also are people who have a history of marginalizing groups, everything from gays and lesbians to Mexican-Americans.
"So there's a lot of stress because people see others feeling under siege," Carr said.
Coping with the stress of having a losing candidate is very hard, according to Carr.
"We've never lived in a nation, at least in my lifetime, when hate was so prevalent," she said.
Carr advised finding support from like-minded people.
"Talk about what you're worried about, talk about what your fears are, and have others just work it through with you."
Carr also suggested donating money or time to organizations that one feels promotes their political or social agenda. "That will help minimize the feelings of helplessness," she said.
Anger is another emotion and one of the worst symptoms Carr says that the presidential outcome has stirred.
"Physical fitness can help. Working out their energy, spending time with pets, spending time in yoga, relaxation, spending time with friends that one trusts and enjoy. But anything one can do to lift their mood really will be helpful because it's near impossible to live under this feeling of stress and anger for too long without really harming one's physical health," said Carr.
If the election or politics comes up during a discussion with family or friends during the holidays, Carr advises against trying to change a person's mind and just listening to the the other person's perspective.
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey has been fielding calls from people stressed about the election outcome, according to MHANJ President and CEO Carolyn Beauchamp
The Association's information and referral line has been receiving calls from people frightened about the future.
"They're frightened about what's going to happen to them, what happens if they lose their benefits, what happens if they can't get treatment," said Beauchamp.
"Mostly what we're hearing isn't about depression. It's about the stress and the fear of the unknown, which of course, causes stress," she said.
"For the most part, folks who call don't have a lot of resources. Many of them are on Medicaid, and with changes to the Affordable Care Act, if that happens, these people are terrified they're going to lose their Medicaid resources," she said.
"I think it's difficult because we don't know what's going to happen next, and that's really I think what they're responding to. When people are stressed, it's usually because there's something outside of their control," Beauchamp said.