For so many minorities and those who have always perceived themselves to be on the fringes of American society, the results of the 2016 Presidential election is a big and bitter pill to swallow.  For the vast majority of people of varying colors, those living proudly under the rainbowed flag, and we women who were all ‘with Her,’ it feels like a mortal wound akin to a stake in the heart. For what we have always known about America, what we have sensed and felt and experienced at work, in school and in the shopping malls has now in our minds been confirmed and made public. The schism is real.  The ‘ism’ is real.  Racism and racial hatred is no longer a covert operation.  It’s pretty much out there for all to see and hear.

Given this, how do we deal with the myriad emotions we are struggling to come to grips with?  The fear, the loathing, the disappointment, shock, the hopelessness?  How do we survive in Trumpland?  We go back to basics, and we remember some simple things that have sustained us in tougher times:

  1. Identity: During a time when we are feeling devalued as a people, like we do not fit in and don’t belong and aren’t wanted, Black people living in America must know and celebrate who we are and from whence we come.  We must celebrate all that is us and is unique to us, and help our children to accept and embrace all of what is our cultural contributions to this nation. A trip to the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, or rather a series of trips, is a wonderful place to begin. It is so important that we set the foundation for our children’s healthy sense of self and self-esteem despite the overt and covert messages to the contrary.
  2. Community: We are a communal people, and we have survived and thrived by sticking together and by having each other’s backs. It’s funny though; seems the more progress we’ve made, the less unity we seem to have. Nevertheless, we need to reflect on our history and get back to basics. Together we enacted great change in this nation. Together we elected the first African American President. Together we have overcome so much, and together we will do it again.  During this difficult time, let’s not isolate or separate but let us remember there is both strength and power in numbers and in unity.  Let’s not simply come together for protests or boycotts (though these can be adaptive ways of dealing with the upset and inequality in our country).  But let’s come together and be proactive. This could be the catalyst to healing some of the internal strife and schisms that exist within.
  3. Conversation: The election results should and hopefully will pave the way for honest conversation; both in this country and in our community. Thoughtful, ope and real conversation about our community, about problems that are seemingly endemic, about the solutions, and about how we will break the cycles of poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunity, and others that continue to plague us.  We gotta be willing to look at the man in the mirror.  Everything aint about the enemy.  Sometimes the enemy is within.
  4. Spirituality: No matter what your spiritual bent, where there is faith in and reliance on God or whatever higher power you subscribe to, there is hope.  This hope is what has gotten us over many a mountain, and it is what we need to cling to now.  As a people, we have clung to this hope when the only thing that could be seen was pure darkness. Out of our faith came an optimism and an unshakeable belief that better would come.  Because of our faith, we knew we would overcome.  And so we did.  And so we will. During these difficult times, lean on your faith. If you don’t have a religious practice or attend a religious service, try attending one as soon as possible. Or try praying, or having a conversation with God or your higher power. Even meditation can be a way of connecting with Spirit. The point is, getting back to the roots of your belief system can be a grounding force and a powerful accelerant for change.
  5. Keep it rolling: We as a people have taken a licking, and kept on ticking.  Its what we do, and a part of who we are archetypically.  While today was a difficult prelude to what might be a new reality, tomorrow will be just another day, and the world will go on. And we will wake up, and we will put on our big girl underwear or panties, and we will keep it moving.  It’s what we do.

I’m learning to appreciate this one thing: in life and business, one should always seek to achieve the win-win situation.  Losing doesn’t have to be an all or none. There is great progress that can be made despite such disappointment, and much good that can come from what is seemingly so bad. Let’s strive for that.  And let’s maintain hope, for hope is ALWAYS here.

Be well,

The Good Dr. Nik


Dr. Nicole M. Alford, aka ‘The Good Dr. Nik,’ is a Washington, DC-area based Clinical Psychologist, Life-ologist, blogger, speaker and compassionate activist.  Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @theGoodDrNik and view her website at http://www.TheGoodDrNik.com.

Election Stress Syndrome: I WILL SURVIVE!

I, like all Americans, have reached a saturation point.  A point where I just can’t.  Not anymore. I can’t see their faces.  I can’t utter the name Trump, nor any word that begins with ‘trump,’ like trumpet.  And despite my feelings about him and what he stands for, this is really not about him.  I don’t want to be reminded of anything that vaguely looks or sounds like Hillary Clinton; like Bill or Chelsea.  This has arguably been the ugliest, most contentious, vile, uncivil, unfocused, and damaging election in modern US history.  But that’s not the problem.  Print, video and social medias have inundated us with the rollercoastery 2016 Presidential election for well over the last year and a half.  And we just can’t take anymore.  Many of us are keenly aware of the fact that there is so much at stake.  The future is at stake.  This is an Animal Kingdom fight to the death type of scenario, or so it seems.

So how do we survive what many mental health professionals have dubbed Election Stress Syndrome?  While not a true clinical diagnosis, it describes the cluster of symptoms that many are experiencing as a result of the drama and trauma of the approaching 2016 Presidential vote.  Feelings of worry, stress and fear, difficulty making decisions because of unease about financial markets or job situations, impaired sleep, gastrointestinal issues. All fight or flight parasympathetic responses to the fact that our brains see our futures in jeopardy.  And how about getting into heated debates or full-blown arguments, irritability, anger, or God forbid aggression?  How is one to survive over the next few days with sanity intact?

  1. Limit your exposure to elections news updates:  Turn off or restrict viewing of all stations (this includes CNN, MSNBC, nightly news broadcasts, and oh yeah Fox)!  If your Twitter feed and Facebook timelines are full of political memes and mentions, then you might just have to give them a break until November 9th.  Silence news notifications on your smartphones.
  2. Try not to engage in political discussions: We all know those folks in the office who have those off-putting, uncommon, or maybe just politically divergent views and are loud and boisterous about it, right?  Stay away from them (if need be), and avoid any situation that might steer you into a heated political debate.  You know the old adage — the one we seem to have forgotten: the two topics to NEVER publicly discuss are religion and politics. People’s emotions are running very high.  And as you’ve probably seen, the heat will only get hotter as we near Election Day.
  3. Try mindfulness meditation:  Y’all know this is my cure-all for all things stressful!  The research backs me up on this!  It will quickly and effectively focus your attention from elections drama and shenanigans to yourself (like your breathing, for example), divert your attention and tune your concentration, clear your mind, and reduce anxious feelings.  The app that I like to recommend to patients is Headspace, (Disclaimer: I have no proprietary interest nor receive any compensation from its developers, and am not endorsing this one specifically).  There are many meditation apps available for both IOS and Android. My point is, try one if you are new to mindfulness meditation.  I guarantee you that with some practice, you will see great results and can apply this to other stressful situations in your life.
  4. Relinquish the illusion of control: The underpinning of anxiety is fear.  That is the basis of it.  We fear the unknown. And so we try to tightly control the future. This is an illusion, and really, a form of denial.  I am of the belief that we mere mortals have no control over anything really, save the limited control that we have over ourselves exercised as free will. And so I relinquish the belief that there is anything that can be done or said to influence the outcome of this election, because the outcome has already been written. And for those who share similar beliefs, prayer may be a way to remind yourself that the results of November 8th are well out of our hands. You will find solace, then, in praying for the will of your higher power to be done.
  5. Know that it will all be OK:  Try having a little faith that in the end, things will work out.  History teaches us that no matter what happens on November 8th, and no matter who becomes our next President, we will accept it, roll with it, and move on.  Things will be different, and we know that change isn’t always easy.  And this will be true no matter who wins. But in the end, let hope kick in.  Have faith that things will be OK, and let us learn a very valuable lesson from all of this, lest we find ourselves in this very uncomfortable place again.

Be well,

The Good Dr. Nik


Dr. Nicole M. Alford, aka ‘The Good Dr. Nik,’ is a Washington, DC-based Clinical Psychologist, Life-ologist, blogger, lecturer and compassionate activist.  Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @theGoodDrNik and view her website at http://www.TheGoodDrNik.com.