SEATTLE - If you’re feeling out of character after Election Day, don’t worry. It’s probably perfectly normal.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Kira Mauseth said between the uncertainty of the Elections, Daylight Savings Time and the Covid-19 pandemic, there are many of us who are trying to find ways to feel safe and comfortable.
That could be in the form of stress eating or hiding under your blankets for a couple of hours.
“People will do a lot of things to feel comfortable, and to feel safe and secure when they’re feeling so anxious,” said Dr. Mauseth. “ Whether it’s a snuggly or a piece of clothing or blanket or a tub of ice cream. There’s a lot of go-to coping mechanisms for people in that category right now.”
Anxiety is an internal response to what’s typically an external situation, and according to Dr. Mauseth can be managed with good coping skills.
“A lot of what causes anxiety is we’re thinking too big picture or too long term, and if you narrow your scope and you narrow your focus, like what is happening right around you in the present moment, it’s going to be a lot more grounding. It’s going to typically be a lot more calming for you than to be imagining a future and imagining a big scope,” said Dr. Mauseth. “Regulating your breathing. Taking a minute. Just actually taking a beat, a heartbeat, or a breath before you respond is a good way to help regulate yourself a little bit.”
It’s incredibly normal to have emotion regulation issues right now, and managing that will take intentional work, according to Dr. Mauseth who is also a Senior Instructor at Seattle University. She recommends finding a way to contribute to your community, no matter how small or big.
“You can bring the garbage can in for your neighbor. Bake cookies for the person next door. You can do things to contribute to something bigger than yourself,” said Dr. Mauseth. It’s pretty normal to have an extreme reaction to this set of circumstances this week with Daylight Savings, and the Election and Covid.”
Dr. Mauseth said there are a couple of levels to this. If you’re having a few hours where you’re just off that probably normal, but if the stress and anxiety is interfering with your ability to function with your regular jobs in a consistent way, that’s a sign you need to get help.
Ultimately, find something that works for you. It could be focusing on self-care and wellness or downloading a mindfulness or meditation app that will help bring you back to the present.