If you were hoping for a big Democratic win on 2014's midterm election day, you have probably experienced some better Wednesdays than this one. As you and your horrible mood already probably know, Republicans took control of the Senate last night, unseating Democrats in multiple states, and beating high-profile Democrats like Alison Grimes and Kay Hagan. CNN reported that soon Republicans will have their largest House majority since World War II. Gulp.
Throw in the fact that you may also be overtired and nursing a sore throat (from arguing with your Republican co-workers) or a hangover (from doing the only sensible thing you could while watching election results), and you have a recipe for just not being able to get it together today. Post-election depression is real, and even people whose favored candidates have won run the risk of feeling bored and empty after Election Day. But those whose candidate failed are at risk for feeling depression "similar to grieving," according to psychologist Nancy Molitor — with feelings like sadness, anger, and numb disbelief frequently popping up. Throw in broader feelings of fear and uncertainty about the country's future, and you have the makings for one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, total garbage Wednesday.
Figuring out what political steps need to be taken in response to yesterday's election will take time and effort from sharper political thinkers than me. But when it comes to running away from your problems via anger, snacks, and dog GIFs, I'm a grand champion. So let's get in a comfy chair, grab a glass of the most soothing beverage that you feel comfortable consuming during daylight hours, and see what we can do to cheer you up today.
1. FEEL YOUR RAGE/ SADNESS
The first thing you need to do is admit the full extent of your feelings. Find a safe, private space (utility closet, single occupancy bathroom, deserted mini-mall) and let your feelings out in a non-harmful way. Curse. Stomp. Crumble a fistful of Doritos into teeny tiny pieces while letting out a wordless, guttural moan. You're never going to be able to get a handle on today until you fully accept all of your negative feelings. So let them out in a controlled way, instead of trying to keep them down in order to make it through the day, and see if it helps you feel any better.
2. TREAT YOURSELF
For today, all those thoughts about how when you eat a Kit Kat to comfort yourself, you're really just hurting yourself, and you should actually comfort yourself with kale juice and a nice jog blah blah blah, are completely off limits. Eat a Kit Kat. Eat nine and call it "lunch." Eat however many it takes for you to feel any form of pleasure again. Eat a block of cheese like it's an apple. Cancel a non-crucial appointment and go look at some soothing trees or stare blankly out a window or something. Do whatever feels like a treat to you, and don't feel guilty about it.
Find your most politically like-minded co-workers, and have the political shit-talking session to end all political shit-talking sessions. Will it change anything? No. Will it make you feel like you're not all alone in the vast, cruel, Mad Max-style hellscape that is this world? Maybe. But: can you guys blame everything, from the weirdly oily office coffee, to the cold that you think you're catching, on the Republican senate? Definitely! And right now, that is maybe all we have.
4. DISTRACT YOURSELF
Distract yourself with whatever is enjoyable and easily accessible on the internet, and won't get you fired. I personally enjoy a nice animal GIF or 20. Look at those dogs go! Is the top one is supposed to be in Jailhouse Rock? Who even knows! Oh, you kooky, old-timey dogs! When will you ever learn?!
Are the dogs making you feel any better? No? How about this Tumblr of dancing GIFs culled from movies and TV shows? Or what about this Tumblr dedicated to chronicling the worst children's jokes of all time? What if you tried listening to the most relaxing song ever recorded? Maybe you could dedicate a few minutes to flipping through this collection of Sassy Magazine "Dear Boy" columns from the early '90s, where famous male musicians like Beck and Mike D from the Beastie Boys answered the personal problems of teenage girls (with predictably hilarious results). You could watch the fourth season of Portlandia , which just got added to Netflix, or every season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which just became available via Hulu. Or you could just re-watch the "airplane" scene from Bridesmaids . WHATEVER YOU SAY, 'STOVE'! I mean, right? What kind of a name is Stove? That's the kind of question you should be grappling with right now.
5. See Your Friends
Resist the urge to spend tonight cocooning alone in your house, eating take-out and muttering darkly to yourself. Don't get isolated, even if you think that you just want to spend tonight alone with your horrified brain. Go to a movie with friends. Go to the gym with friends. Have dinner with a friend and mutter darkly to them. Interact with other people. Hold on to some semblance of your normal daily routines, and remember that, at least on a moment-to-moment level, you are the one in charge of your life, not Mitch McConnell and his smug "slightly rotten jack-o-lantern" grin.
6. Take a Deep Breath of Acceptance
OK, did you eat? Did you look at some GIFs? Are you a little calmer now? Great! Now you can begin to contend with the fact things are actually as bad as you thought they were when you woke up this morning. This is how things are now. This is life, and all you can do is take steps to make the future different.
7. Figure Out How You're Going to Move Forward
So, what are you going to do about all of this? Are you going to focus on the small but important Democratic wins and the failure of personhood amendments in Colorado and North Dakota from last night? Or other positive developments, like the election of MA attorney general Maura Healey, which prove that no amount of Republican wins can set the clock back on society? Are you going to volunteer at local charities and organizations that fight for issues you care about in your state, like reproductive rights or environmental protection? You can jump on a website like VolunteerMatch.org
or Idealist.org to get matched up with a relevant charity in your area. Are you going to work with a voter turn out organization, to make sure that everyone in your area is registered and ready to vote before the 2016 election? What are you going to do to feel more involved, engaged, and empowered about the political process?Yup, this was all a trick to get you to commit to getting more actively engaged in local political issues! #sorrynotsorry. But seriously, take all the time you need today to stop panicking and feeling out of control...but the only way to not spend the next two years feeling totally panicked and out of control is to get more involved in the issues that matter to you. We can't win 'em all, but we can at least try our damndest to staunch the bleeding and ramp up for next time.But for today: those streaming videos and blocks of cheese are calling your name. Don't fight it.
Images: Giphy (10)