Like many people out there, I'm currently struggling with Trump-induced anxiety. What this means, as least for me, is that sleep has become near impossible, as I roll around for hours, occasionally Googling things like, "how many executive orders do presidents get?" and "what are the chances that Roe v. Wade can be overturned?" During the day, I'm just as stressed, if not more so, as I'm bombarded with all those executive decisions Trump is signing off on left and right. I've even doubled up on my weekly therapy visits and my psychiatrist has upped my daily Xanax intake. Yes, Trump-induced anxiety is real. Isn't it nice to have a name for it?
For many, this is nothing new. In October 2016, the American Psychological Association survey found that 52 percent of Americans cited the election as the source of their stress, categorizing it as "very or somewhat significant," in its impact. In addition to that, the survey found that this anxiety affected Millennials even more with 56 percent of them pointing to the election as the reason behind their stress and anxiety.
While we can't undo the fact that Trump is now president, we can at least practice self-care and help get this anxiety under control.
If you're wondering how your breathing can help with anxiety, then try it right now. Take a deep breath in, hold it, now let it out until your lungs are empty. Then do it again; doing it even 10 times will make a big difference on your anxiety. It's also the reason why so many people who practice meditation and yoga say it helps them de-stress — they know how to breathe.
"Shock, anger, or outrage can peak your heart rate, which will only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety," Clarissa Silva, Behavioral Scientist and author of relationship blog, You're Just A Dumbass, tells Bustle. "One of the quickest ways to immediately remedy that is to practice deep breathing exercises when you feel your body is overly stimulated."
2Keep It Healthy
As someone who crawls up into a ball and cries when my Trump-induced anxiety gets the best of me, while eating chips and chugging wine, deep down I know if I get up, have something healthy, and get moving, I'm going to feel so much better. However, I don't always do that — I really need to get in that habit if I'm to survive the next four years.
"Stress can cause poor eating habits, overeating, binge drinking or drugging, and/or disrupt sleep," says Silva. "Make sure that you don’t allow the stress to cause you other much more complicated conditions later. Remind yourself that no one is worth that."
Yes, not even Trump.
3Go On A Low Media Diet
"We’re constantly bombarded by the same news story told from 20 different angles, which can make it seem more critical and dire than it is," Licensed Psychologist Erika Martinez, Psy.D.* tells Bustle. "Instead, consider the sources through which you get your news. Do some make you more anxious? If so, eliminate those outlets and identify three-four reputable news sources (print, TV, online) that don’t trigger (as much) worry in you."
*Editor's note: Erika Martinez, Psy.D. remains politically neutral and offers advice as a mental health professional.
4Stay Off Trump's Twitter Feed
Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
To get a bit more specific in regards to social media consumption, Silva says that you really need to maintain a cognitive distance. In other words, stay away from Trump's Twitter feed, among other things. All you need to do is read one more tweet about his "fantastic" ideas or "huge" inauguration crowd, and you can be sent over the edge.
"Unplug for a bit," says Silva. "Don’t read full transcripts of speeches, watch whole segments of news clips, or read three weeks of Trump’s Twitter feed. These activities will set off a negative emotional reaction. If you must stay abreast of what is going on, limit yourself to just highlights. The goal is to limit exposure to toxicity."
As someone who follows Trump on Twitter, I realize it can addicting because WTF, THIS CAN'T POSSIBLY BE REAL LIFE, but I also know when I stay off of Twitter for a few days, I notice I can finally stop hearing the loud thud of my heart in my ears.
5Give Yourself Designated Times For Media Consumption
Martinez suggests setting aside specific times for it so you're not overwhelmed. Either choose one day a week or an hour every day to get your fill of current events. In designating specific times, you're not just sticking to a low media diet, but you're also deciding whether or not you're in the right mindset to deal with what's going on the world. Martinez also says to avoid having these designated times before bed... no sense in adding to your nightmares, right?
6Limit (Or Just Get Totally Off) Facebook
Facebook and I broke up the other day. I couldn't handle reading all the political posts and although all my friends are liberals, I'd have to witness the back and forth of these liberal friends fighting with their conservative relatives and it was stressing me out. I realized that I needed to get the hell off Facebook for a few weeks.
"Are you getting agitated, having mind-numbing painful arguments with friends, family or strangers, ruminating about a Facebook post at night or days later, or unfriending your friends or family?" asks Silva. Then you might be doing the opposite of what you need right now. You need social support to help you get through the phases of anger, grief, shock, or hopelessness."
7Challenge Yourself As To What You Can Handle And What You Can't
"Anxiety is all about the underlying belief, 'I can’t handle XYZ,'" says Martinez. "Challenge yourself to consider how you’d handle XYZ if it were to happen. What would you say or do? How would you adapt and cope? If you don’t have those adapting or coping skills, consider seeking some support to learn them."
Basically, confront that doubt and create a plan as to how to tackle it, if push comes to shove.
8Redirect Your Energy
Did you know that this Trump-induced anxiety has actually led to support groups? New York City's municipal workforce now has access to therapy specific for Trump-induced anxiety. And New York City is far from the only place that is offering services to help people deal with this, um, sh*t show.
"Several states offer hotlines or support groups that address Trump-induced anxiety/stress," says Silva. "If you are unable to locate a resource for yourself, create a support group... find people that need similar support or feel alienated by their support and friends, and organize a small gathering at a local bar, lounge, or coffee house."
9Inform Yourself About How American Politics Work
"Knowledge about American history and political science, how the U.S. Constitution works, its separation of powers, and checks and balances, and how the American politics works can give you perspective and alleviate some of your fears," says Martinez. "James Wilson’s American Government and Linda Monk’s The Words We Live By are good places to start learning about the Constitution and politics. Also, find out how your representatives are voting on issues that matter to you."
As someone who's been drowning herself in political history, I agree that this is helpful. While it might seem like Trump is trying to set some sort of record with all his executive orders, this is actually something all new presidents do. Yes, 12 in just a couple days may seem like a lot, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a whopping 3,522 executive orders while he was president. Although, being in office for 12 years, as he was the longest running president in history, did give him ample time to do so. But my point is, in learning that fact, Trump's 12 felt a tiny bit less scary... as for the content of those executive decisions, that's another story entirely.
10Get Out There And Get Involved
Since it's already been proven that movement is great for stress, so is the action of getting involved. "Find causes that you care about and participate in organizations that support them," says Martinez. "Write and call your local, state, and federal representatives. Let them know about the issues you care about and why you care. They are your representatives after all."
Silva offers the same bit of advice. "Find local nonprofits that are working on social justice, discrimination, reproductive health, healthcare, immigration or any issue that you feel passionate to," she says. "They can always use volunteers, fundraisers, or donors. This helps you take control of your emotions by re-directing them into actions that are constructive and helps you regain hope."
11Give Yourself Permission To Really Feel What You're Feeling
You are entitled to your feelings about the election results and the fact that Trump is now in office and setting back the world by, oh, 50 years or more.
"It’s OK to feel shock, hopeless, rage, agitated, angry, hypersensitive, all of it is perfectly fine," says Silva. "Extend that to others, as well. We’re inundated with information all day long. We consume more data and interpretations of that data and it can overwhelm us. Take the time to process the information and develop your own voice rather than accepting someone else’s spin on it. The next time you read an article, just remember that Congress enacts laws, not the president."
This is a really hard time for many of us. I am right there with you. I'm sick to my stomach over what's happening. I cry on almost a daily basis as to what's to become now that Trump is in office. But, as many of my friends have said, we can get through this together. Remember: Love Trumps Hate. Don't forget that.