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10 Tips From Psychologists About Coping With Your Anger Right Now

Woosah. It's going to be OK.

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With the election now over, there are a lot of people who aren't happy with the results.

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The race brought a lot of hate to the surface, and with Donald Trump now the president-elect, some people are fearful, some are distraught, and some are just very, very angry. Because so much of the election dealt with issues relating to one's identity — whether it was race, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc. — many people feel particularly alienated and frustrated right now.

If that's the case for you, BuzzFeed Health talked to psychologists Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Josh Klapow, PhD, associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, as well as psychotherapist Steven Stosny, PhD, author of Soar Above, for advice on how to process this information and cope with that anger.

1. First, realize that your anger is most likely valid. Let yourself feel mad for a while.

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Regardless of who you voted for, it's completely normal to be upset about something this huge when it doesn't go your way. Election campaigns can also get super volatile — this one sure did — and all that negativity can seep into your own psyche. "When we watch people displaying negative emotions, we tend to become negative ourselves," Stosny says. It also doesn't help that we've been constantly plugged in to every update and every opinion from everyone we know.

So it's OK to be upset and angry at the results, Klapow says. "You're entitled to be angry, you're entitled to be upset," he says, but if you can't recognize when it's consuming you, it'll eat you up.

2. Take a break from the news and social media if it's only making you more enraged.

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While both may seem inescapable, it's important to recognize when you've had enough, Stosny and Klapow said. Being informed isn't bad — democracy requires engagement, Humphreys says — but digging too much can ramp up your frustration.

"If you find yourself getting angrier and more frustrated after checking multiple sources, then it's time to let it go, because it may be that you're never going to find the answer that you're looking for in this heightened level of emotion," says Klapow.

3. Really seriously try to calm yourself down when you can.

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This is going to be a hard week for a lot of people; there's no denying that, and there's no easy fix. But the best advice the experts can give is to at least try to calm yourself down when things get incredibly overwhelming.

It doesn't matter if it's deep breathing or watching Netflix for a few hours, Klapow says. Maybe it's cooking or going for a run or just hiding in the bathroom and texting your best friend. Just pay attention to your body and try to give yourself a break with whatever helps to calm you down (aside from drugs or alcohol please). Taking these breaks will make you better able to manage your frustration, Klapow says.

4. Try not to let your thoughts snowball into bigger and bigger what-ifs.

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It's can be easy to get sucked into thinking about worst-case scenarios, but we realistically don't know exactly what's to come just yet. At this point, it’s counterproductive to let your catastrophic thoughts build on each other, so if you find your thoughts snowballing, you might want to consider talking to someone who can help with your particular concerns — whether it's a therapist, a lawyer, or your local congressman.

5. Focus on things you can actually control.

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When you're feeling overwhelmed and helpless, finding anything you can control can be incredibly empowering. Sometimes that control can be in very simple daily responsibilities — like going grocery shopping, cooking dinner, or going hard on a project at work. While this might not work for everyone, it could be worth trying to redirect your energy towards getting back to your typical day-to-day.

"You can diffuse your anger simply by saying, 'I'm going to focus on my workout, I'm going to bench more, I'm going to run more, or get more involved with my kids. It doesn't have to be topic specific... just getting back to your routine is good."

6. You can also direct that passionate energy toward something meaningful.

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If you feel some type of way about this election and want to make a change, there are things you can do at a community level that may help you feel better, Humphreys said. For example, you can become a part of your kid's school board to ensure they're getting a quality education, volunteer at a food bank, or work toward getting local leaders you support in office, where they can make a difference.

Doing so will help tune you in to your deeper values, Stosny says. And passion for these values, he says, is a much healthier driving force for change than anger could ever be.

"It’s intensely meaningful and satisfying to work on local things that we can actually control," Humphreys said. "It feels better, and the nice thing is that stuff doesn’t bring us in conflict with other people."

7. Be kind to someone.

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Yes, even when you're so very frustrated. It could be anything from helping your neighbor with a package to holding the door open for someone to buying a stranger something to eat. "Just an act of kindness to someone will lower anxiety and make you feel better, because that focuses on a personal level where you have power and influence," Stosny says.

Not only will you hopefully make someone else's day easier, but studies have shown that charitable giving makes people happier, and kindness — just like negativity — spreads between people.

8. Keep in mind that no matter how shitty you think a person is, they are also human.

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At a time when we are quite literally divided, it may help to focus on our similar beliefs and values, says Humphreys and Kaplow, whether it's better education, more jobs, better healthcare, etc. If you can do that, you might be better equipped to deal with those tense interactions that come from differing political beliefs. "Even if they're a complete jerk, there's still a basic humanity to them," Stosny says. "If you can attune to that, you can see their perspective much better."

And while you might not agree with it, this understanding may allow you to move on with your daily life without getting as fired up, Humphreys says. "They all have their own flaws and so do you. We all have our own blind spots," he says. "When you recognize that, it can be humanizing, both for yourself and other people."

9. Try to focus on all of the ways we are better now than we have been in the past.

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Regardless of your political views, most of us can agree that Americans today are better off in many regards than we were at other points in history.

"We're healthier, we're wealthier, we live longer, our children are far more likely to live to adulthood, we have better schools and healthcare, more human rights," Humphreys says. "We'll get through this. We've been through much harder things than this, and we're still here."

10. And finally, remember that anger can make us impulsive, so think very carefully before acting on it.

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We'd all like to think of ourselves as rational decision-makers, even when we're angry, but that's just not the case. We're impulsive when we're angry, says Humphreys, and we have to be careful not to let it consume us. "If we let that go too far, we end up harming our relationships, harming the people around us, and also harming ourselves."

If you're angry about the election results, try to be mindful of how you act on that. Maybe that means not answering the phone when your family member calls to talk about the election — at least for a few days. Or maybe you want to take a break from Twitter until you've processed this a bit longer.

"You're just not at your best [when you're angry] and you're far more likely to say something you regret," Humphreys says. "Wait. The relationship is more important than communicating immediately about what's going on."

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