5 Steps to Recover From The 2016 Election

5 Steps to Recover From The 2016 Election

Many people I know, including myself, are struggling to grapple with the implications of this election.   Not only has a racist xenophobe won the election, but Republicans will now have complete control over every branch of government. For those of us concerned about racial tolerance, the environment, and preserving the social programs we do have, there are no words to describe how worried we are.   And for those of us concerned about climate change, there is a growing terror about the Republican’s denial that global warming is man made, and what they will do when they have all the power.

So how can we process the results of this election?   How can get back to the things that are important to us?  How can we make the best of this situation?

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Do You Have Election Stress Disorder?

Do You Have Election Stress Disorder?

Thanks to the negativity surrounding this year’s elections, election stress disorder is said by the American Psychological Association to be affecting 52% of Americans.

This diagnosis was originally coined in developing countries with more instability, and in 2016 is becoming a major epidemic in America.

What are the symptoms of Election Stress Disorder?

More people are feeling anxious and stressed.   We are more prone to rage in driving, at work, and in relationships.   As we take sides, we grow more divided and are unwilling to listen to the views of others. We become more contemptuous and less respectful.   The stress of this election is putting real strain on relationships, both in the home and beyond.

What are the factors that are contributing to this?

We have one of the most contentious elections between the 2 major party presidential candidates in the last 50 years or more.   They are also the 2 most unpopular candidates in modern day history.   Both are using fear of the other, as a driving force to vote for them. Neither of them are trustworthy, and both are being investigated by the FBI or in Federal Court for corrupt practices.   Neither of them inspire us to be our best, and very few people believe that they represent the views of the 99%.

i-dont-want-to-hearThe stress of this election comes many factors: 1.) Many are voting out of fear of the other, and not for the change we want to see.   2.) Many of us are desperate for real change to help the 99%, and most of us don’t believe either candidate will make our lives better.   3.)   There is tremendous fear of either a Trump or Clinton presidency and the ramifications of either taking office.  4.) The media excludes the voices of the 3rd party candidates, and perpetuates the idea that we only have 2 viable choices.   5.) The negativity and disparaging comments made by the campaigns and the media about others gives us subconscious permission to treat others similarly.

Our environment plays a very important role in how we treat each other.   There are countries for example that are known to be more friendly than others, and much of it has to do with their media and how they treat each other.   If we tolerate more rudeness, disrespect and put downs from our leaders and our media, we can expect to see that behavior grow. The people that are the most susceptible to these influences are people that have less control over their emotions.   When the emotional circuits are triggered, the prefrontal cortex should kick in to help us to have control over our impulses.   The prefrontal cortex however does not finish developing until about 25, and that can vary greatly, depending on your environment growing up, your mental health and your education.  Because of the way the brain develops, and declines, children and the elderly are more susceptible to being emotionally triggered. Teachers are expressing a deep concern over the increase in bullying seen at schools, calling it “the Trump effect”.    Stress also impacts our ability to use the prefrontal cortex, and thus our emotional inner child gets unleashed, and that can lead to more strife and tension in relationships.

Now that we know that the elections are stressing us out and negatively impacting our relationships, what should we do about it?

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How to Let go of Excessive Worry

How to Let go of Excessive Worry

Do you worry too much? 

One of big reasons why we worry so much is because we are trained for left brained verbal thinking. We are not trained to feel! In fact, we are often taught to “Just be cool”, thus encouraging us to deny our emotions. But these emotions don’t go away on their own. They get lodged in our tissues to reek havoc in our mental and physical health as we age.

Also if we couldn’t count on our parents while young, then we might have inadvertently been trained to worry. After all, we had lots of responsibilities. We needed to make sure everything was taken care of, and we had a roof over our heads.   And because the world wasn’t safe, we felt like we had to worry, because who else would be responsible?

But the constant worry causes us an incredible amount of stress. Relaxation is difficult or near impossible. It is hard to enjoy life when are worrying all the time!

So how do we turn it off?

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How to Stay Informed Without Getting Depressed

How to Stay Informed Without Getting Depressed

I’ve always been troubled by massive injustices inflicted upon fellow citizens. In my quest to determine how to prevent a future Holocaust for example, I needed to understand what caused it. One of the most important lessons I learned in my college course, “Introduction to Political Freedom”, is that the most horrific injustices of the world occur when we are not paying attention and when we disengage.

Thus, I’m a big believer that it is essential to stay informed and engaged in what is going on in the world, and to do what you can to make it a better place.

But as an empath, staying informed and keeping engaged can be emotionally taxing and overwhelming.   Every day I wake up, thinking about the state of our country, and how we can have peace and justice in this world.   And often this obsession with the direction of our country leaves me in despair about the future.

But I know that I’m not alone, so after doing some research on the internet, I found some great advice which I’ll share below.

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When Expressing Anger is the Healthiest Choice

When Expressing Anger is the Healthiest Choice

I grew up with an angeraholic.   My father seemed to be critical and angry about everything, and much of that anger was directed towards me.

I decided at a young age that all of his anger wasn’t healthy and that I wasn’t going to maliciously unleash my anger at others just because they were easy targets.

But I was furious with him! He would scream at me for not working hard enough, for not being good enough in school, or any “hobbies” he’d chosen for me. Yet, when it came to get any support I needed, classes or tutoring so that I could live up to his expectations, there wasn’t enough money, or he “didn’t believe in spoiling me”.   I felt like I was constantly under his personal surveillance program, designed to criticize me and undermine everything I tried to be or do.

Without a healthy outlet for that anger, I turned that anger inward towards myself.  

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The Dangers of Putting Yourself Last

The Dangers of Putting Yourself Last

I have a client that spent 35 years dedicated to helping her husband excel.   She helped him organize his space, prioritize his health, and she kept him fed and the house cleaned so that he could concentrate on his career. She told herself that she was doing it because of her unselfish and undying love for him, even though he didn’t seem to appreciate her or her efforts.   Meanwhile, he wasn’t affectionate with her, and was often distant and aloof.   But as he distanced himself more, she would justify his actions to herself.   She held on to hope that her marriage would turn around and that one day, he’d come home and tell her how much he loved her. Then he left her for a younger woman.

I had another client that regularly worked 60-70 hr weeks. She was a co-owner of the firm she worked with. While each person was responsible for a portion of handling the business, she frequently found herself taking responsibilities that her colleagues had neglected to fulfill.   She was exhausted, and as she was getting older, she realized that she had been neglecting herself, and that it was time to prioritize herself!

overloaded with workAnother client was completely overloaded with responsibilities. She was the CEO of her company, and often found herself having to work late into the night. Then she’d come home, and take care of her elderly parent. She also managed several properties, and an Air B&B. She was stressed out, sleep deprived and having a hard time keeping track of all her responsibilities.

All 3 of these clients dedicated their lives to others and left themselves last.  How did that impact their lives?

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