How to Deal with Your Political Hangover

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My guess is that a lot of you out there — especially those of you in Washington — are suffering from what I call a “political hangover.” It’s a lot like a regular hangover–you wake up in the morning having indulged in a gratuitous amount of your vice (in this case politics), feel groggy and slightly ashamed, and now have to deal with the ramifications. Whether you had a good night or bad, the morning after midterms is bound to be a little rough.

So, here’s a handy-dandy guide to making it through your post-election political hangover. Fair warning, while many of these tips are bipartisan, some apply more directly to those suffering a painful-Democratic-defeat hangover right now.

  • Imagine you’re somewhere else

We get to indulge in a pop-culture version of politics that is very different than what the political atmosphere actually looks like. Whether it’s the West Wing, Parks and Rec, House of Cards, or Scandal, maybe today’s the day to indulge in a little bit of fantasy.

Just an example.

  • Look at dog videos. Or cats. Or babies? Really, whatever calms you down. 

There’s no better way to get over disappointment and/or exhaustion than by watching something cute to take your mind off of it for a bit. That’s definitely a scientific fact and not a theory that I use to excuse my frequent YouTube watching of puppies frolicking. Anyway, here’s my puppy video of the day for your enjoyment:

  • Take a break

This is not me telling you to take a nap at your desk. Unless you work at one of those cool offices with nap pods or something. I mean more in the general sense–take a break from the political coverage. There are some recounts and run-offs, but for the most part nothing big is going to be happening for the next couple of days. Go outside. There are people there. And things to do. Stop refreshing your browser for the elections that have not been called yet.

Because as much as we all obsess over the news and politics, those real people are the reason that we do it. For each of us who sits here arguing over the minutia of education policy, there are countless kids for whom education is the only possible lifeline they might get. We parse quotes from politicians about the economy, and it’s easy to forget about the decent number of people who are unemployed or too demoralized to look for jobs. We obsess over the potential of a recount when a lot of people in our justice system don’t really get second chances.

This isn’t to say that people who follow politics don’t think about the people–I think the vast majority of the time that’s pretty far from the truth. But there is something to be said for the political sensationalism that our modern media allows. At the end of the day, politics and the media that covers it is an industry unto itself. Media outlets, pundits, observers, and sometimes even politicians make money off of their political brand. After the 24/7 media slam of  these elections, the most expensive midterm elections in the history of the U.S., and what will presumably be an exhausting 2016, I can’t imagine that a palate cleanser would be a bad thing.

  • Ask, “What’s Next?” 

Many apologies for the double West Wing gif in this article, but I can’t help myself.

There’s a whole new crop of politicians coming to Washington, state capitals, and Governors’ mansions. And I think all that America wants is for them to do something. Granted, I probably won’t like what most of them do, but wow, do we all really need to do something. Partisan gridlock, government shutdowns, and petty politics are all useless.

I’m probably being overly optimistic here, but just remember this: there’s always more work to do. For those of us who were disappointed with what happened last night, we need to keep working. We can’t give up trying to make our voices heard. And for those who were pleased with the election results…show us you earned it.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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