How To Cope With Election Results You Didn’t Want

Psychologists offer advice for the grief, anxiety, and anger that comes to many after an election.
post-election emotions mental health philippines bongbong marcos leni robredo doomscrolling
In this photo taken on May 9, 2022, supporters of presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo take part in a prayer vigil. Photo: STR / AFP

In the Philippines, many are unhappy with the unofficial results of the presidential race, as the frontrunner, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator appears to have garnered over half of the votes.

A day after the elections, protesters wave banners and march while others hold prayer vigils. Still others turned  to social media to cry foul and air their grievances, expressing their anger, sadness, and disappointment.


While Marcos Jr. is poised to win by a landslide, those who supported other presidential candidates can’t believe that just 36 years after ousting his father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., Filipinos would put his son into power. 

This is particularly true for supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo, the opposition candidate who ran on a platform of honest governance and sparked a volunteer movement among the youth. 

Election results are known to cause pronounced shifts in people’s emotions, sometimes known as “election agony” and “post-election stress disorder.” What’s happening can be called “anticipatory grief,” or the distress of dealing with an impending loss, said JR Ilagan, a clinical psychologist based in the Philippines. 

It’s common to feel irritable, angry, ambivalent, frustrated, misunderstood, unable to focus, and like you want to escape at times like this, said Rea Celine Villa, also a clinical psychologist based in the Philippines.

“These feelings are valid because you have invested a lot of energy, passion, and time in expressing and believing in your point of view. Since the election is very fresh, it is also important for people to acknowledge those emotions and allow themselves to have them,” Villa said.


But we’re not just talking about the loss of a candidate. “It’s a loss of life or a government that each voter, who may have lost this time around, was looking forward to,” said Ilagan. The loss of one’s candidate also feels like the loss of one’s values and principles, which might not be represented in the succeeding government. 

“Experiencing loss can challenge core beliefs, important values, the concept of security and confidence in the predictability of life and the future,” said Villa. “The emotions connected to the cycle of grief [are] painful but natural and are important factors in the healing process. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor a timeline for it. Everyone grieves and absorbs the experience of a loss in his or her own way.” 

Meanwhile, the values and principles of candidates that do make it into office are validated by the public and represented in government. For example, some may see Marcos Jr.’s impending win as legitimizing disinformation and absolving the horrors of martial law, Ilagan said. 

All this can be unsettling for many Filipinos. Below, these experts share ways to cope with post-election emotions.

Fall back on a routine (that’s good for you)

This can be a stressful time for many, and stress can take a toll on people’s immune systems, explained Villa. 

To cope, Ilagan advised people to focus on routines that make them healthy and well-rested, things that give them their energy back, especially now that they might feel tired or burned out. 


“Having the sense of routine can give back the sense of normalcy. Post-election, especially given what’s happened now, the idea of normalcy is gone, and so trying to gain a sense of normalcy can allow us [to] feel a sense of control, of what’s within control in our lives,” he said.

Stop doomscrolling

Limiting social media consumption might also help, said Ilagan. “Limiting time on social media isn’t for the purpose of blocking oneself out of the reality, but maybe trying to avoid certain triggers, especially in this very crucial time.” 

Control your responses 

If you do find yourself triggered or otherwise wanting to respond to a person, event, or piece of information, Villa advised to control that response. People can do this by widening the space between the stimulus and their reaction.

“By trying to widen the space between the trigger (stimulus) and the response (how we react based on heightened emotions), we can hopefully accept victory or defeat with grace and courage,” said Villa.

Find a social support system

Ilagan also advised finding a social support system and safe space. Isolation can lead to the intensification and rumination of emotions, he said, so being around trusted people can be helpful. 

Look for other avenues to take control

It’s also important to remember that voting is not the only way people can be involved in society. Ilagan encouraged Filipinos to exercise other rights, like finding NGOs, advocacies, and trusted politicians to support, even if their candidates for president and vice president, and picks for senators don’t win. 

“There’s a lot of powerlessness that people are experiencing now. This is a way of empowering ourselves again. Maybe not necessarily restoring the faith of Philippine democracy, per se, but it at least allows us to be heard,” said Ilagan. 


Villa advised the same, saying that volunteering for different advocacies and passions can help people combat anxiety, by regaining a sense of control and finding renewed hope. “Decisive actions help minimize anxiety because we are focusing on things we can control,” said Villa.

Remember an election is not an end 

Losing an election can make people feel invalidated, threatened, and powerless, Villa said. But it’s important to remember that that is not the case. 

“We can still take actions today to find hope. The electoral outcome is not the end, it is an opportunity for us as individuals and a community to uphold and put into action what we believe the country needs to flourish,” she said.

All this can help people cope with the many difficult emotions they face right now—but just coping isn’t necessarily the end goal here. There may be a need for more action in the future, and these emotions can fuel that. 

Ilagan said it’s important for people to sit with these uncomfortable emotions, and understand what those emotions are trying to say. “It is important to not let these feelings go, because by letting these feelings go and kind of just separating from them, then the possibility of further action becomes very low.”

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