After many days of uncertainty, Joe Biden has been formally declared as the official President Elect. The waiting period and stress levels rising from the unpredictable results has proven to be a familiar occurrence from previous elections. Whether you are red or blue, you are subject to post-election stress. This year that will go down in history as the “Pandemic Election” has brought on a new level of stress all American’s will all be facing.
It is important to know the effects stress can have on your overall wellbeing, especially when not treated or managed, so you can understand why it is important to take control of it. Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist Christine Deschemin shares that “Stress rewires your brain in ways that perpetuates anxiety. When you experience prolonged stress, more links are created between neurons in the emotional brain and at the same time, the prefrontal cortex is less able to fully fulfil its role as executive center of the brain. In other words, you become primed to overreact to innocuous stimuli. You become more nervous and anxious.” So, not managing your stress will trigger increased worry and anxiety, which are two issues known to have a substantial effect on quality of life. With stress tied not only to your mental and emotional health; it can harm and change your physical health as well.
Meghan Rose of Meghan Rose Wellness points out that stress is a “silent killer” causing issues from headaches to heart disease. The physical effects stress has on the body can be short term such as hives and nausea, but if you are in a constant state of stress your body will go into “chronic inflammation”. When your body is in this state it interferes with your immune system’s ability to overcome illness. Deschemin also points out that this chronic inflammation will make you more likely to experience stomach aches and disfunction in the reproductive and digestive systems. Most importantly, by having a constant battle of the issues triggered by stress, your quality of life will deplete.
So, what is it that America is stressing about? Deschemin directs us to a Stress in America™ Survey that showed politics, healthcare, and mass shootings were the biggest sources of stress, and that climate change is a growing stressor in America. This study was done in 2019, pre-election and pre-pandemic. This is now only heightened with the addition of these two monumental occurrences. Rose shares that the specific topics she sees most of her clientele stressing over are reproductive rights, racial equality, feeling accurately represented by their government, fear of a recession, access to affordable healthcare, and potential of war or issues surrounding international relations.
Rose shares, “Women’s rights, reproductive rights, racial discrimination, and affordable healthcare all play a part in both the pandemic and the election. We could even broaden this and bring in climate change and environmental sustainability- with increased production and disposal of masks, COVID-tests, plastic wrap, and healthcare supplies – which is a pivotal matter with the 2020 election.”
The pandemic has also made people are more cautious about their health which has led to many mail-in ballots this election. This method has drawn attention as being unreliable, and with American’s strong faith in our government, questioning the legitimacy of the inaccurate voting allegations can change the culture of the country and can have a lasting effect on mental health of our citizens resulting in increased stress and anxiety. It’s important to have trust in your government, and as Rose puts it “When we feel trapped and misrepresented by our country, it can cause stress and anxiety because it essentially strips us from personal power in some way.”
Deschemin advises people to accept the result and to focus on what they can control by becoming active in your local community. She reminds us that worrying about what you cannot control is a waste of time and energy. Whenever we focus on what is within control, we can experience a sense of poise and direction.
It is important to have conversations about social and political issues and to partake in community events. Having these conversations is a key point in the stress reported due to the election. It is possible to prepare yourself and to find a way to lead America to the country you want through these uncomfortable but significant conversations while managing the stress that usually comes with them. Rose stresses that people should always have compassion during these discussions. “When we live in a state of fear, division, and anger, we cannot tap into love and compassion. By setting healthy boundaries, listening, and respecting that others may have differing opinions, we begin to let go of the need to control how other people behave, respond, and react. We can only control ourselves, so why not show up lovingly? Why not show up with empathy?”
There are some Americans that are having a greater reaction to the current events with stronger feelings of fear. Rose suggests for those that go through strong feelings of fear to follow these steps. “Follow a five-senses exercise. First: notice 5 things that you can see. Then 4 things you can feel. Now 3 things you can hear. Then notice 2 things you can smell. Finally, one thing you can taste, and remind yourself, “I am okay.”
Both Rose and Deschemin are specialists in their field that promote the wellbeing of mental health. They have each provided ways to manage the stress of the election and the pandemic.
Deschemin states that it is essential to take control of your mental health as it can have a direct result on your physical wellbeing, and this can be done with a consistent self-care routine. “You just need a few minutes in your day to do that. That is why I launched the UpNow self-hypnosis app, so that people can learn to self-regulate from the comfort of their home”. With the financial struggles brought on by the pandemic, this is a great solution that is only a fraction of the cost of a therapy session.
The effectiveness of hypnotherapy has been endorsed by the American Psychological Association.
As a Spiritual Advisor, Rose has been working on individual stress-relief plans. “Meditation, breathing, and yoga don’t feel appealing to some, so we have to be aware of our own interests. Are you more apt to play a board game, paint, watch a light-hearted movie, or go for a walk/run? Give yourself lenience with your stress-relief plan and do what works best for you, rather than what you think you “should” do to cope.”
We are in a time of uncertainty and with a new leader in office, we will have changes brought to our country. There will still be conversations about our new president elect and what that means for us as a country. These are needed conversations for growth and compassion, but it is important to prepare yourself to handle these as the come. Take care of your mental health and find a method that works for you.