The drama during this election has been overwhelming for most of us. It has been difficult and unhealthy mentally and physically to digest the partisan anger, vitriol, and divisiveness. This election stress can literally make us sick. Stress is the driver of all diseases. In fact, researchers have found higher levels of cortisol in the saliva of voters heading to the polls.
Take a Step Back
If you find your heart pumping, mind racing, and your jaws clinched every time you peruse your favorite news sources it’s time for you to take a step back. Have mercy on your mind and body as they are trying to navigate the sea of stress hormones you are creating. Chronic stress is a severe health problem.
For Election Stress Practice the Acronym A.C.E.
A=Awareness. Become aware of your mental and physical symptoms when you talk about or hear news of the election. Physical symptoms include heart racing, blood pressure rising, hands sweating, headaches, backaches, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, or trouble sleeping. Emotional or psychological symptoms include anxiety, worry, anger or tantrums, overreactions, moodiness, or lack of concentration. Write down a list of your physical and emotional symptoms. Getting your symptoms out of your head and putting them down on paper where you can see them is powerful.
C=Choice. You are not a victim of election stress. You have a choice. Choice is a powerful antidote to aid your mental and physical health, well-being, and happiness. I have listed some tips below to help you make healthy choices for your life. Elections are a part of life, and it is helpful for you to make peace with the ebb and flow of public opinion expressed through our election process. As in life sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. You are the CEO of your emotional response to life’s circumstances. The power of your attitude and your choices make the difference between happiness and misery.
E=Experience Your Energy. Become aware of how much better you feel after you make positive, healthy choices. These choices are the result of your attitude and reactions to your election stress. Look at your list of symptoms again. How are you experiencing your election stress now as different than before you practiced A.C.E? Do you feel more energetic, powerful, and confident?
Tips to Survive Post Election Stress
- Win or lose with kindness. Make a choice to choose kindness in this post-election era. You can choose to be angry, vengeful, and vindictive but you won’t be too happy, and your physical and mental health will suffer. You can choose to be kind and surrender to the outcome and realize we live in a democracy and everything changes. There will be another election, and history shows us elections are short-lived and the landscape changes every two to four years. Don’t make choices that make your mind, body, and soul-sick and unhappy.
- Would you rather be right or would you rather be loved? My beloved psychiatrist friend told my husband and I a profound fact a long time ago that I shall never forget. We were in marriage counseling arguing with each other when he broke in and said, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be loved?” We sat in silence, and both whispered gingerly, “loved.” Whether it is a co-worker, friend, neighbor or family member ask yourself this invaluable question. Living your life feeling self- righteous rather than living experiencing love is not even a question in our family. You decide.
- Compassion helps everyone. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. They feel strongly for some reason that you may not understand, but that is their right. It can be a powerful spiritual practice to experience compassion in your heart instead of anger and resentment. You may want to continue a conversation with this other person to attempt to understand what they believe and why.
- Reverent respect wins the day. Win or lose we must respect each other. We are all loyal, blessed Americans and deserve each other’s respect. The disrespect we are experiencing in our world these days is unconscionable. The appalling disrespect people are expressing with each other, on social media, and in our society is immoral. We must take the higher ground and begin to respect every human being, animal, and this creation we all share.
- Separation is an illusion. We are one people, who live on one planet, and we have one future together as citizens of this Divine planet. Try to live with the concept that we are one human family just like your biological family. You may not like your brother’s ideals, but he is still your brother and your family. We are all part of this magical, dynamic web of Creation. We are all in this boat together so let’s begin to listen to each other with love and respect as brother and sister. Amen.