Your Brain on the 2016 Election and What to Do About It

There is a great deal of anger and fear in our country right now. There is a huge divide. People are scared. With the news and social media full of fear-inducing and anger-inducing messages, we are in a state of heightened alarm. 

What does this do to our health? For many, this election is stressful on a traumatic level. With chronic stress, the nervous system is in a perpetual flight-or-fight mode which wreaks havoc on our emotional and physical bodies. We may be having more depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach issues, and illness. Even if we feel removed and disconnected from the election, we are still impacted by the environment we're exposed to.

What can we do about it?

1.) Express your anger and fear. Most of the time, because we haven't learned any different, we either turn our anger in (often resulting in depression), or out (often resulting in aggressive or impulsive behavior). Talking your feelings over with a supportive other is one way of productively expressing yourself. Take the time to explore and sit with your feelings to better understand them and find some compassion for your suffering.

2.) Move your body. Anger wants us to take action; it's an evolutionary adaptation developed to protect us. When we're angry and afraid, our blood is pumping, our hearts are beating faster, and it helps to move this excess energy through us by exercising.

3). Limit your exposure to the fear and anger inducing triggers. Pay attention to when you begin to feel overwhelmed. Perhaps you take a break from social media and go outside. Look at the trees and the flowers. Take in beauty and remind yourself that it still exists.

4.) Societal anger has the potential to change things. Yes! Anger is good! When society is angry, that is a huge signal that something is wrong. Unfortunately, we can't seem to agree how to fix it. It can be incredibly difficult if not impossible to know where to draw the line between fighting for what we believe in and knowing when the fight is no longer serving us. Some things are just out of our control (which is maddening in and of itself). However, in the words of Viktor E. Frankl: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”