For many people across the world, this year’s US presidential campaign has proven to be frustrating, shocking, and deeply, deeply upsetting.
And, today, our worst fears were confirmed when it was announced that Donald Trump has beaten Hillary Clinton to be elected as the 45th President of the United States.
From announcing his plans to wipe out safe, legal abortions, to his reduction of Clinton to nothing more than a “nasty woman”, Trump has proven time and time again that he is a misogynist in the worst possible way.
More shockingly still, we have seen the new President Elect hit by claims of inappropriate sexual behaviour towards women and girls – with a number of woman stepping forward to accused the Republican of forcibly groping or kissing them.
Footage has been released of the businessman making inappropriate remarks about a girl believed to be around 10 years old, and a leaked audio tape from 2005 allowed voters to hear him boasting about how his fame allows him to "grab women by the pussy".
Yet this did little to dissuade his staunchest supporters from voting for him. In fact, after it was suggested that the US would select Clinton for President if only women voted, the hashtag #Repealthe19th went viral on Twitter.
Speaking about this, Margaret Atwood – the author of A Handmaid’s Tale – said: “The 19th Amendment is what gave women the vote. So there are Trump supporters who want to take the vote away from women.
“The Handmaid’s Tale [is] unfolding in front of your very eyes.”
This morning, we asked our Twitter followers how they felt following the election result. At time of writing, a resounding 88% revealed that they were “terrified”. Further highlighting the strength of reaction, hashtags like #heartbroken, #notmyvote and #RIPAmerica trended on Twitter.
These feelings – much as our shell-shocked response to the Brexit referendum – are completely understandable; the fear of change is evolutionary in humans and our internal predispositions teach us to resist it in order to remain in control.
We spoke to Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist and anxiety expert, for some advice on how best to handle our emotions over Trump.
Here’s what she had to recommend:
1. Focus on the good
It's not all bad. According to Our World in Data the world has never had it so good. Infant mortality is down, starvation and poverty are down and there are fewer wars than ever before. Despite the news portraying all the doom and gloom that goes on, things are getting better.
2. Remember that it will all be OK
According to a study cited by Robert Leahy, author of The Worry Cure, 85% of the things we worry about don’t end up happening. And of the 15% that do, 79% of us handle the problem much better than we expected. So try not to worry and trust that things will probably turn out ok.
3. Be the change
As Gandhi said, 'be the change that you wish to see in the world' by having an attitude of acceptance and love instead of hate and fear. Stop lashing out at Trump supporters online; it’s not helping anyone. Instead, focus on being kind to other people and yourself; it’s one of the best things you can do for the world - and that stuff is infectious! What can you do to be more kind and accepting today?
4. Opportunity and growth come out of difficulty
Life, unfortunately, if full of difficulties and challenges but it’s often through these things that we make the most progress. There’s a saying ‘things have to get worse before they can get better’ and I liken it to having to take a few steps backwards before taking a running jump forwards. Look for the silver linings and grab them wherever you can; it’s important to remain optimistic in your outlook.
5. Channel your anxiety into action
The antidote to anxiety and worry is action. Instead of fretting about the state of the world, what action can you take now to make it a better place? Perhaps you sign a petition, give money to charity, boycott palm oil or simply help someone out that needs it. Margaret Mead famously said: 'Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.’ Focus on what you do have control over.
6. Wait and see
There is an old Chinese proverb about a man whose only horse runs away from his farm. All the people in the village exclaim ‘How terribly unlucky you are!”. The old man just says ‘We’ll see’. A few days later, the horse returns and brings with it 5 other wild horses. All the villagers shout ‘How wonderful, you’re so lucky!’. The old man says ‘we’ll see’. Soon afterwards, the old man's son breaks his leg. ‘How unfortunate!’ the villagers say. ‘We’ll see’ the old man replies. Days later, the country goes to war and all the young men are conscripted, except for the old man’s son, who can’t go because of his broken leg. ‘How lucky you are!’ the villager say. ‘We’ll see’ the old man replies.
The truth is, we just don’t know how things will turn out, so let’s be open to things turning out ok.
7. News detox
If Facebook mourners and grim news reporting is bringing you down, consider having a break from it and switching off for a while. The world will continue to turn if you don’t check Facebook and it may help your peace of mind to have a break from it.
8. Don’t judge your emotions
Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, without criticising or judging yourself for it. When you’re struggling, self compassion is whats needed, so recognise that you’re going through a grieving process and allow yourself to feel each stage. Above all, be gentle with yourself and do what you need to do to support and take care of yourself.
9. Talk to others
Find someone to confide in about how you are feeling right now, be it your best friend or your mum, because putting your emotions into words can provide some relief by reducing the fight or flight response, according to researchers at UCLA. Simply saying ‘I feel scared’ can go a long way to helping you to feel calmer – so don’t bottle things up.
10. Shake it off
When animals in the wild have gone through something traumatic, they shake their bodies vigorously to discharge the tension. By doing this, they release the stress so that they don't have to hold on to it in their bodies. To copy this technique, shake your whole body vigorously for a few seconds. Music such as Shake It Off, by Taylor Swift, or Hey Ya by Outkast, is optional (but recommended!).