Post-Election Stress Relief

So many people are stressed out, frightened, and angry. Brain biology teaches us that when the primitive brain, which controls the fight-flight-freeze reaction, is activated, it draws blood from the frontal lobes, which control the ability to think and act with the gifts of intuition, reason, and logic.

With that in mind, I’m offering a list of things you can do right now to reduce stress in your life.

1. Breathe. Stress and anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which in turn increases these feelings. We need oxygen, and we need to relax the solar plexus muscles. When you feel yourself getting stressed and anxious, stop and take several long, deep breaths.

2. Drink water. This goes along with breathing. Fear and anxiety can create toxic emotions that turn into physical toxins.

3. Take flower essences. Dr. Edward Bach began his work following the horror of World War I and the influenza epidemic. As a world-wide economic depression deepened and fascism began to rise in Europe, he developed the Bach Flower Remedies, which helped countless people restore emotional balance.

They are as helpful today as they were then. I will provide a future post about this and for today will list a few that can help immediately.

Rescue Remedy is one of the world’s most popular Remedies. Combining 5 Bach Flower Remedies, it can help with shock, trauma, terror, numbness, and other emotions.

Sweet Chestnut is valuable for despair. Mustard helps with gloom. Star of Bethlehem helps with shock and trauma.

4. Tap. If you aren’t familiar with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or other forms of tapping, this is a great time to learn. EFT Down Under is one of my favorite sites for learning.

5. Be cautious about social media. I see lots of inspiring posts on Facebook, for example, but there’s a lot of negativity, too. I’m not condemning the people who post negative articles, but I’m avoiding the self-destructive urge to click on those links.

6. Reach out to friends. For many of us, this is a time to connect to others for mutual support.

7. Be active. If you belong to groups working for social justice, increase your participation.

8. Practice mindfulness. This may mean meditation, yoga, chi kung, or any discipline that returns your focus to the Now.

9. Cherish the present moment. Mindfulness also means remembering that what we create in the present becomes our future. And fear of the future poisons the present moment.

10. Don’t hate. It’s so easy to do at present. I’m reminding myself that it takes two sides to make a divided country (or world). I may vigorously disagree with people, but to deny their humanity diminishes my own.

Finally, I’m sharing links to two poems that are guiding me through the present moment.

This links to St. Francis’s poem that begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

The second is Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Please Call Me by my True Names.” This is a beautiful plea for compassion.

How to Crush Your Creativity: Anger

Anger is somewhat different from other emotions categorized as negative because sometimes the biggest problem we have with it is that we don’t want to feel it. Many people have been raised to believe that anger is destructive, uncivilized, and overall, not very nice.

Attitudes are quite different in the world of animals. I have seen tiny kittens hiss and shriek with all their might when a big dog approaches them. Sometimes it’s not the biggest but the loudest that wins or prevents a battle.

When we hold anger inside ourselves, we become candidates for high blood pressure, ulcers, and a number of other conditions. Anger, when used constructively, can relieve stress. When repressed, it creates stress.

Unexpressed anger also has a strong tendency to turn into the sour bile of resentment. (See previous post, no, not the cat. I understand he has no trouble expressing anger. It’s the one before that.)

Give yourself an outlet for expressing your anger. For years I’ve recommended to my clients that they write down everything they’d like to say to someone with whom they’re angry. Don’t hold back. Say every terrible, vicious, and vindictive thing that you’re feeling.

If you happen to be living with that person, put the file somewhere that it won’t be found. Why not delete it? I would highly recommend and even urge that you do this eventually. However, I often find it helpful to cool down and read the letter a while after I’ve written it.

Once the heat has been dissipated, you may discover that some of the things you wrote range from ridiculous to hilarious. You may wonder why you were so upset about some of the subjects you covered.

These realizations help to train your awareness. The next time you feel anger coming on, you may have the mental acuteness to ask yourself if this is really such a big deal. That needn’t stop you from writing about it. However, you might melt a few less keys as you do so.

Let me reemphasize: The release of anger is healthy, but the degree of healthiness depends on how it’s released.

Oh, and don’t forget to delete that document.