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Kicking the Trump Funk

Tips from a local therapist for staying sane while staying informed

Look around and see signs of political burnout, in more than just eyes red and raw from excessive newsfeed scrolling. Listen and hear it in voices: nervous laughter, talk of fascism and edgy jokes about leaving the country.

And all this is amongst folks who arguably have the least to lose with the election of Donald Trump. 

For less comfortable Americans, this malaise — this Trump Funk, if you will — is more like abject terror, a genuine nervous exhaustion. A quick Google search produces a sea of how-to articles about dealing with post-election anxiety. 

Back in October, The New York Times reported Manhattan therapist Sue Elias saying: “I’ve been in private practice for 30 years, and I have never seen patients have such strong reactions to an election.” 

Barack Obama is no angel, but with the election of our nation’s first African-American president, it felt like a page had turned. 

And now, with a gross primary season resulting in what promises to be one of history’s most dangerous presidencies, that page has been slammed back hard — harder than anyone could’ve dreamed. 

Marc Zola, a Eugene-based licensed marriage and family counselor, is founder of Eugene Therapy and Oregon Counseling of Corvallis. Zola says that, post election, his organization has definitely had an uptick in calls for first-time appointments 

“People remain concerned about how extreme, racist, homophobic and oppressive views have been normalized during this election cycle,” Zola says. “The uncertainty this creates tends to have the most salient impact on vulnerable populations, including (but not limited to) those with chronic mental health conditions.”

But in addition to fear and uncertainty, Zola says the election has renewed a commitment in people to taking action for social justice causes they feel a Trump administration will threaten. “To some degree, we are seeing and hearing increased mobilization and interest in finding common ground,” he says. 

“The existential threats of climate change, war and fascism are on people’s minds,” Zola continues, “and this can serve as a motivator to organize and advocate for our values in a way that both brings us together and creates personal satisfaction as a healthy byproduct.” 

So besides growing a big black beard and heading for the hills in green Army fatigues with an AK-47, what does Zola suggest doing to weather the upcoming four years while managing to stay sane? 

“Our advice is to consider taking some of the time spent being exposed to news and putting that toward reaching out to others and practicing self-acceptance,” Zola advises. “Fear tends to be experienced in a private and isolative way — part of the antidote to this is realizing that many others are experiencing very similar feelings.” 

“There is power in realizing you are not alone,” Zola says.