How to Cope With Election Agony – As Obi Likely Leaves Our Constant Sight

Prof. John Egbeazien Oshodi

Post-Election Grief Could Be Real, Especially With Obi People Of All Ages Became Acquainted With This Great Man

 

This election was like no other— The rise of Peter Obi in the crusade for Nigeria’s presidential election on February 25, 2023 will forever shake up the country’s politics.

Rallying him are what has come to be known as the “Obi-dients” consisting of mostly youths, young adults, and open-minded adults within and outside Nigeria.

They joined Obi to battle for the soul of old Nigeria. In Obi’s own words, “The big people are there, but allow this small person to do it. And I know I can do it.”

To join him in this battle for the soul are his followers, many of them first time voters, others moving away from the giant parties, the All Progressives Congress (apc) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (pdp).

In polls after polls Obi was always in the lead sometimes with more than 15 percentage points over Bola Tinubu of the incumbent All Progressives Congress (apc) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (pdp), the main opposition.

Even more extraordinary is that the Obidients joined Obi into a very small party, the Labour Party, I will call it the unknown party.

These soul changers as they dreamed and wished for new country with positive changes surrounded themselves around Obi and gave him the physical, spiritual, and psychological push to withstand what is known as Nigeria’s ‘cabals’ that wanted Obi to step down as a presidential candidate of the Labour party.

Obi the spectacled former governor of Anambra State decided to stay on to harness Nigerians’ anger as it relates to their expression of frustration and anger with a cyclical corrupt leadership.

May Nigerians who chanted for a New Nigeria, saw this election as the most consequential election in the history of Nigeria.

Obi the man the politician gave hope to fight institutional dishonesty, unequal justice, mal education, chronic unemployment and unfair distributive healthcare and economy.

Obi not only motivated many Nigerians young and old from all regions of the country, but he also captivated many and fell in love with him right on the spot.

They campaigned up and down in different states— every nook and corner of it. They were violently attacked by political thugs, they like many faced unexplained delays polling units, stayed in the rain, late arrival of voting materials, faced cash swap crisis, many were not just attacked by thugs, whole stole and BVAS snatched ballot boxes, beating with sticks, stabbed, and shot at them, yet in the face of these anger, pains, and torment.  Labour Party supporters shocked Nigerians and the world with impressive and good turnout.

As I write this note of advising the apparent Nigerians in grief, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) just declared Bola Tinubu of APC as the winner of presidential election over all 18 presidential contestants.

We know that sometimes the aftermath of an election can take a serious toll on one’s psyche, mental, emotional and health.

Let’s call it what it is, post-election anxiety and depression. It is not unlikely or uncommon that Obi is as angry as you. In your dream or fantasy the curious post-election life of the man who would have been president will come to you.

The anger will turn into tears and pain about a man who is believed by his supporters to have more actual votes for President than any other contestants will not be president because of endemic corruption in the political space of Nigeria.

There might still be hope Obi might still come in.

While in my capacity as a licensed psychologist I cannot offer any one therapy here openly and in the media, I am suggesting some possible coping strategies – post-election grief is very real, as every election triggers distress for some people. Right now, many Nigerians whose candidate lost are deeply upset following the victory of Tinubu in the 2023.

The people are now in a state of contentious political divide.

Here are the most common symptoms of depression – sadness, lonesomeness, and fatigue – that seem to be common responses to electoral loss.

In the coming days, weeks, and months what I call political and electoral depression to loss may be experienced in what in psychology, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously named as the five stages of grief, starting with denial, anger, bargaining and ultimately, acceptance.

Some people experience just one or two of these emotions due to electoral loss. I can tell you know there is no easy way to make depression vanish, but there are actions we can take to cope.

Focusing on healthy living will help refurbish your energy. Give yourself breaks from the news – and politics.

Get sufficient sleep, eat well, and get some exercise. Limit time on social media, or better yet, log off altogether for a few days.

While it’s a way to connect with other people and share information, it’s also a key source of political misrepresentation, echo chamber exchanges and polarized thinking.

Overall, too much time on Facebook or Twitter can deepen electoral anxiety and depression.

Seek out social support. Talk to a trusted family member, friend, community leader – or find a social support group in your area.

Uphold the value of democracy. Electoral loss is daunting because it means having to contend with unwanted or disliked leadership – and can create extreme polarization. But accepting loss is part and parcel of democracy.

Once you’ve accepted the outcome, get involved with politics. Elections are just the start of what is a difficult policymaking process. Participating is encouraging and can help alleviate psychological distress.

There are many ways to contribute, from contacting elected officials, protesting, running for local office, or donating money to joining advocacy groups or starting a political discussion group.

Ultimately, democratic societies select leaders through true voting, but one untrustworthy part of the process is that many citizens don’t get their preferred choice.

Being on the losing side of an election may generate distrust in the system and dissatisfaction with democracy.

A loss hit one emotionally.

As many of you wake up to the victory of the president-elect Tinubu on Mach 1st, 2023, you will be filled with a range of emotions, including shock, sadness, anger, confusion, anxiety, and fear.

For individuals who already struggle with anxiety or have experienced trauma, grief or loss, the stress of election loss can make things worse.

Make one feel uncertain and unsafe about what the future will hold.

Don’t get overwhelmed.  Election-induced stress can be prevented or lessened.

Here are some helpful reminders and tips:

Reoccurring negative thoughts can hamper your ability to function throughout the day.

For those who are feeling anxious this election period try to refocus your thoughts on something positive, such as thankfulness.

Take time to practice gratefulness for the things that are going well, both in your life and in the lives of others around you.

Learn to recognize what is within your space of influence and try to engage in activities which give you a sense of power.

Remember that you are in control of how you spend your time, what you pay attention to and how much mental energy you expend on the election.”

Keep in contact with supportive friends, family members, neighbors, or co-campaigners through the next several weeks.

If you decide to watch election night news coverage, try to watch with a friend or family member if possible.

In the coming days post-election coverage – and the partisan jokes that accompanies them on TV and social media will make you more stressed or angry, so limit your consumption.

Read just enough to stay informed or set a time limit for yourself. Also, turn off your TV, smartphone, or laptop at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

Limit your exposure to television and your devices, and to turn them off when they are getting triggered meaning anxiety flares.

Although social media can be a beneficial tool for bringing like-minded friends together and sharing ideas, this time be vigilant and use Facebook and other sites in small doses only.

Take time for yourself.

When anxious feelings start to rise, be intentional about doing things that you enjoy. Psychotherapists call this “self-care.” Perhaps it’s a favorite hobby, such as swimming, singing, listening to music, or listening to a (nonpolitical) news, podcast, going for a run or having a cup of tea or coffee.

Should you continue to find yourself getting really sad, anxious and in agony pick up the phone, make a call or set up a virtual or face to face appointment with a competent therapist or mental health professional. Avoid social isolation for a as it intensifies undesirable feelings and thoughts. Stay strong!

 

 

Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi, who was born in Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria, to a father who served in the Nigeria police for 37 years, is an American-based police and prison scientist and forensic, clinical, and legal psychologist. A government consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult and child psychological services in the USA; chief educator and clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an online lifelong center for personal, professional, and career development; and a former interim associate dean and assistant professor at Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African Settings A former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. In 2011, he introduced state-of-the-art forensic psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C. and Nasarawa State University, where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. An adjunct professor in the doctorate clinical psychology program at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Psychology in Florida, USA. A contributing faculty at the Psychology program, Walden University. Director of Online Studies and Professor of Psychology—Online Faculty at Weldios University in the Republic of Benin. He is a virtual behavioral leadership professor at ISCOM University, Republic of Benin. Founder of the proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien Open University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of truth, ethics, and openness. Over forty academic publications and creations, at least 300 public opinion pieces on African issues, and various books have been written by him. He specializes in psycho-prescriptive writings regarding African institutional and governance issues. His most recent textbook publication is Concise Psychology: An Integrated Forensic Approach to Psychology for Global African Settings. Jos5930458@aol.com