Understanding Responses to the Anxiety From Traumatic Events

The current political context and election cycle may produce a variety of emotional responses ranging from elation to calm resignation, profound sadness, anger, fear and numbness. These responses are normal, and it still may be appropriate to reach out for greater support. The following are common signs that may indicate a need to seek assistance. 

Signs of Emotional Discomfort

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying

Emotional Symptoms

  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Increased moodiness, irritability, or anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Feeling ‘spaced out’ or disconnected
  • A change in your mental or emotional health that interferes with your daily functioning

Physical Symptoms

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • A change in sex drive
  • Frequent colds or flu

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Spiritual Symptoms

  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of faith
  • General sense of trust is shaken
  • Existential grief
  • Questions about meaning and purpose 

What does self-care look like?

Self-care is being attentive to your physical and mental needs and desires. Stay attuned and connected with yourself and your community and participate in the activities that you need to be well. 

What you can do?

  • Recognize your own signs of discomfort/distress
  • Acknowledge your feelings 
  • Be sensitive and kind to yourself 
  • Seek professional support as needed
    • Please refer to the list of places that you can go for support, comfort, and guidance
  • Discuss
    • Talk to people that you trust (friends, family, faculty, confidantes, spiritual leaders, and advisors) but also be aware of how many conversations and “rehashing” that you can handle. Be kind to yourself and know when you need to step away from a conversation or refuse to engage.
  • Empower yourself through activism
    • Channel hurt, anger, helplessness, and hopelessness into social change activities.
    • Stay connected and draw support from your community

Methods of Self-Care:

  • Self-monitor for signs of stress and trauma.
    • Recognize when you are under stress or feeling “unlike” your typical self.
    • Be open to feedback from others and take steps to regulate your feelings.
    • Unplug when necessary.
    • Unplug from media sources that cause you stress.
    • Limit your exposure to personal triggers.
  • Seek restoration by checking in with mentors, family, and social groups.
  • Stay spiritually grounded by engaging in spiritual activities that feel right to you.
    • Prayer
    • Mindfulness
    • Connecting with higher powers
    • Breathe
  • Participate in activities that make you feel happy, relaxed, and rested.
  • Exercise and spend time in nature.

Additional Support Resources