The Trump Era’s Psychological Toll: How To Recover From The Stress Of A Turbulent Presidency

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upset and traumatized woman

Whatever your opinion of Donald Trump is as a person or a president, the four years he occupied the Oval Office were anything but calm.

Mr. Trump’s penchant for outlandish statements, insults, and off-the-cuff remarks without reference to facts kept many people on edge.

You simply didn’t know what would happen next.

When you add growing racial tensions and economic problems — not to mention a global pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in a century — his time in office can truly be called turbulent.

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How you — and the nation — can recover from the stress of a turbulent presidency.

Now that Mr. Trump is out of office and Joe Biden has taken the reins, many Americans feel there's a difference in the country — they truly want to be happy.

The problem is that the past four years have taken a psychological toll on the nation and it has to be acknowledged.

It’s been tough, no doubt about it. Like all people who have survived turbulent times, you might find it difficult to regain your equanimity.

Fortunately, there a several ways to help yourself and the nation to recover more quickly.

First of all, please give yourself a huge pat on the back and a cheer for getting through the four-year-long turbulence. You did it! That’s important!

By doing so, you acknowledge that it's been hard, you struggled, and maybe things happened that were really awful for you. But, you're still here and you're stronger for it.

And, no, it doesn't mean you should be glad it happened. Just be as glad as you can be that it’s over and you survived.

Treat yourself kindly and gently — it’s a good habit to start.

Once you understand that you need to take care of yourself as you recover, you also need to treat other people kindly and gently, as well.

The past four years were tough on everyone, including those who voted for and supported Mr. Trump.

For the most part, my neighbors and clients who did support him were disillusioned or even horrified by some of his acts, especially towards the end.

They are suffering cognitive dissonance — the experience of having their beliefs proven to be untrue. They believed a great number of things and took many types of action, from the purely legal (voting and signing petitions) to the blatantly illegal.

Now, the man they thought was going to be president for at least four more years has been decisively bested and is gone — at least, from public life.

If you have Trump supporters among your family and friends and you feel so inclined, be kind.

There are other people suffering the after-effects of the Trump years, and they truly do need and deserve kindness and action. These are the members of marginalized communities.

Those communities have become more marginalized in the past four years as Donald Trump and others tried very hard to divide Americans and set groups against each other.

People of color, immigrants, LGBTQIA+ Americans, Native Americans, religious minorities, and people with disabilities are among the people who have felt more marginalized than they had previously felt.

If you're a member of one or more of these groups, please know that we're glad you're here.

If you know people who identify as a member of one or more group, you can be extra sensitive to how your friends are feeling.

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Listen more than you speak and offer kindness and support.

Being kind to yourself and others is a good start. It feels good and can ease the pain so many are still feeling. There's more you can do to help yourself and others recover.

Is there an issue we face as a nation that speaks to you, or that has been more traumatic for you?

Spend a moment and run through the various issues in your mind, and see if one pops out at you. If not, don’t worry.

You can pick one that is easier for you to address or join a friend in the issue that speaks to them.

Once you pick an issue, find out what is already being done to address it and join in if you can.

We will recover more quickly by being part of the solution.

Working to make things better in a meaningful way with other people who feel the same is truly cathartic. 

Of course, this might mean Zoom calls and other physically distanced activities at the moment, but it’s still a great way to work with others and to end your own psychological trauma and help others do the same.

It was a very tumultuous four years for the nation, each and every one of us was affected in one way or another.

It's over now, and we're beginning to recover. Our balance of power and traditions have survived, as has our democracy.

We now have the wonderful opportunity to make it better and to "form a more perfect union," in the words of our Founding Fathers.

By doing the work and taking care of ourselves and each other, we will emerge stronger and healthier.

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Nancie Barwick is a clinical hypnotherapist, author, speaker, and medical intuitive. For more information on her services, visit her website.