Relief: The Politics in the U.S.

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Today, Elizabeth’s Creativity Challenge asks the question, among others, about what would cause relief for the current distress in our fellow citizens given the current situation in the world. To provide my take on that question, I’m going to narrow the question to the United States.

The American Psychological Association actually coined a term for the stress many of us felt during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election — election stress disorder. The APA cited people who were terribly distressed after each debate and then more than distressed after the election and who are having trouble recovering from that. First, a disclaimer. I personally believe we have reason to be distressed. But, we can’t have an entire country walking around unable to function for however long Donald Trump is in office. We have to be productive for ourselves and our country. That said, here is the APA’s prescription for at least some relief.

None of us in the U.S. have ever witnessed anything like the Republican primary debates nor the debates between President-elect Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. My highest stress moment (and there were a lot of them) was watching Trump stalk around on the stage (Debate 2) right behind Clinton but in view of the camera looking very predatory. Perhaps it didn’t affect men as much as women. It affected me a lot. I knew then that he should not be President. There were various high stress moments for all of us who were not Trump supporters.

What do we do for election stress disorder relief? First, the APA asks us to consider what actually happens in our brains to cause such stress. The primitive parts of our brain are associated with safety, security, and other factors cave men and women had to worry about. Those are the parts of the brain that came to life when I saw Trump stalking Clinton on stage, obviously to intimidate her. Other things might have caused  your primitives to spring into action.

Other parts of the brain react with empathy, compassion, and more adult emotions than the primitive emotions. Some of us have been able to access these emotions regarding the political situation in the U.S., some haven’t. The APA found that a full 52% of the U.S. population is suffering from election stress disorder, including both men and women.

What do we do to find some relief? The same things we do to find relief for anything that stresses us. Turn off cable news! Now! You can’t do anything at all about what’s happening. Practice relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga, for example. Get some exercise. Aerobics helps me more than anything because it burns off that stress. Go about your work and your life. Read. Preferably fiction. Something that will take your mind to another place and time. See your friends and don’t let politics get in your way. Who cares if they are Trump supporters? They are still your friends. Don’t talk politics with them.

These things are all we can do in the short run. There is one more thing. Run for political office. There aren’t enough young politicians out there and I’ve noticed a real scarcity of young politicians, particularly Democrats. If you don’t run, you can’t make a difference. If we saw young, dedicated politicians ready to run for office, it would be a relief for all of us. #amblogging #amwriting #writing #creativitychallenge #politics

 

*American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, Election Stress Disorder

Post in response to Creativity Challenge #38

 

 

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Can Music Heal Anxiety?

Do you remember the song “American Pie” by Don McLean? As a child of the 70s, it has always been part of the background of my life and the lives of my compatriots. I reference that song because I am a believer in the power of music as a healing force in our lives and it has two very powerful lines in it. We all have “our” music. Many children of the 60s and 70s are into classic rock. The 80s were pop with the emergence of rap and hair metal. The 90s – a plethora of genres including a new sound in rock along with pop, metal, and pop, and so on. Country has always been with us though a new sound emerged in country pop.

When I listen to my music, I am relaxed and happy. Science tells us why. Studies have shown that the sensory pathways along which music travels in the brain compete, for example, with the pain pathways and win. Music can reduce pain. When feeling anxious, studies show that if you listen to music that makes you feel the way you want to feel, it helps you feel that way. So listen to happy music if you want to reduce your anxiety. Music has proven therepeutic in all sorts of clinical settings.

In “American Pie,” there are the lines, “do you believe in rock and roll, can music save your mortal soul.” My answer to both questions is a resounding yes! At the very least, your music can soothe your soul and your anxiety.