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Suffering from Brexit anxiety? This 10-point action plan might help

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For huge swaths of the population, it's been a frustrating, shocking, and upsetting day.

For nearly everyone, the surge of news following the Brexit result will have been disorientating; as a Financial Times journalist was quoted as saying on Twitter: "It's a rather strange day. The Prime Minister resigning is only our third most important story".

This morning, we asked our Twitter followers how they felt following the result. Out of over 1500 votes, 86% of respondents told us they felt 'devastated' by the outcome of the referendum. Further highlighting the strength of reaction, hashtags like #heartbroken, #notmyvote and #whathavewedone trended on Twitter.

Stylist EU reaction poll

These emotions are completely understandable. We spoke to Emma Kenny, psychologist and founder of the health and wellbeing website, Make Your Switch, and she explained the psychological reasons why a strong emotional reaction will have been experienced by many – and might have caught some off guard.

"Whether you are shocked or excited by the result, for lots of us there will be an understandable feeling of tension and concern," says Emma. "Change is something that, by its very nature, has a hint of the unknown. We humans like to be in control of our personal worlds, and right now that may feel challenged."

If you're struggling to cope with the Brexit blues, Emma suggests these actions might help.

Take a step back

"If you spent any time on Twitter or Facebook this morning, chances are you will believe you are witnessing the beginning of the apocalypse. Take a step back and remind yourself that while uncertainty is scary, the world isn't going to end. Instead of focusing energy into a situation that you don't have control over, explore ways you can influence change and concentrate on these."

Accept that you are feeling a sense of loss

"Grief is a process that involves shock, denial and disbelief along with anger, and it’s totally normal to experience these feelings. Recognising that you need to move through these challenging emotions can be helpful."

Re-route your mind

"If you are feeling particularly anxious then try a distraction or mindfulness technique. Simply picking up a pencil and thinking about how it feels in your hand, how many uses it has and using it to doodle on a piece of paper can help you focus on something calming, thus lowering stress in the moment."

Uncertainty

Look at the positives

"Although they might not be immediately obvious, there are always silver linings – grab them whenever you see them, and remember that chaos can often precede positive change. An optimistic, glass-half-full mentality will help you deal with this current uncertainty."

Get strategic

"If you are worrying about what impact leaving the EU will have on your personal circumstances, then think about how you can manage this and mitigate the effects. If, for example, you are concerned about mortgage rates, seek advice from a trusted adviser. Such proactivity will help you to feel more in control."

Be nice to each other

"Right now there is a clear division in the UK, so if we truly want to be Great Britain, then it’s time for unity. That means making an effort with our colleagues, friends, family and even people we pass in the street. Smiling increases the release of serotonin, the happy hormone, and can prove contagious, which means you are passing your positivity on."

Avoid the blame game

"Don’t dwell on what people of differing opinions are saying on social media, and avoid getting into any back-and-forth disagreements in the heat of the moment. Whilst emotions are raw, it’s good to let the storm pass."

Social media

Go offline

"A digital detox during this inflammatory time may help to keep you relaxed and rational. Turn off technology and stop scanning social media. This will give you space to process your feelings, without being attacked or influenced by others."

Carry out some random acts of kindness

"Whether it’s surprising your colleagues with a box of chocolates to cheer everyone up during a stressful afternoon, or sending an elderly relative or neighbour a bunch of flowers, doing something altruistic will make you feel better, as will seeing the joy that your actions bring to others."

Get support

"Seriously, if you are really struggling with what’s happening right now, find someone to confide in. Whether it’s having a moan with one of your mates, or calling your mum, having a debrief and putting the world to rights can make you feel calmer, and remind you of how loved you are."

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