We are grieving about an assault on human kindness, honesty, and integrity. Astonishment is giving way to fear with each proposed presidential appointment — a denier of climate change to head the EPA and reverse a decade of environmental protections, a woman who does not believe in standard public schooling to head the Department of Education, and a proposed Energy chief who wants to dismantle the Department of Energy.
As a long-time liberal activist and wellness advisor who specializes in Stress Management, I set out to help myself, my peer group, and my clients look at how we might handle these trying times.
Unfortunately, this is not the kind of stress you can just breathe or bubble bath away. This is a deep “threat response” to a candidate who was deceitful. Cortisol levels are dangerously high as half of American citizens wrestle with their fight or flight response.
I have come up with the following 5 tips for managing our Post Election Stress and getting in gear for 2017:
A divided America is seeing the world from opposite viewpoints. Self-righteous indignation will get us nowhere. We must seek to understand what made so many people vote for Trump if we ever want to succeed at winning them over.
Here’s my take on the Trump voter:
They were tired of an immovable government, irresponsible leadership, incestuous interest groups, and the high costs of supporting this quagmire. Are we that dissimilar?
The Trump supporter thought that only a feisty outsider could penetrate these entrenched interests. Accusations of inexperience, hypocritical wealth, and misogyny fell on deaf ears in the light of what they perceived to be bigger problems.
Ironically, this movement for change was also Obama’s clarion call. But there was not enough change in Obama’s administration to satisfy half of America. Even if this was because of the Republican Congressional blockade, Trump supporters felt Obama did not improve their circumstances.
Trump, a skilled marketer, said what many Americans wanted to hear. When Trump said he would make America great again, the voter heard that to mean he would make them great again. They did not need to hear about the plan for getting there. Details are boring!
Like a Rorschach inkblot, Trump’s abstract promises were interpreted by the voter to suit their own circumstances.
2. Look at history to gain a new perspective
History repeats itself. I always feel better when I read about similar horrors of the past and how we have rebounded from them.
Consider these past political leaders:
Mitchell Palmer, Attorney General, 1919-21
– defied constitutional rights by chasing down left-wing dissidents and foreigners, detaining some, deporting others. His radical defiance of justice helped spawn the civil liberties movement, including the formation of the ACLU.
James Watt, Secretary of the Interior, 1981-83
– supported commercial development over environmental protection. He opened the outer continental shelf to offshore oil drilling, quintupled the amount of public land leased to coal-mining companies, and allowed clear-cutting of thousands of acres of old growth forests.
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, 1975-77, 2001-2006
– alienated countless military and intelligence colleagues by failing to heed their advice (sound familiar?) and bungled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These are just a handful of many past political leaders. The lesson to be learned here is that we survive. We bounce back. Democracy is self-corrective. We can not give up nor give in. We can not cling to our hurts and fears. We must find ways to recreate our shared vision so as to leave a functioning planet for our children’s children.
“One election does not change who we are as a people…
The America I know is clear-sighted and big hearted – full of courage and ingenuity. More than the Presidency, it is the optimism and hard work of people that have changed our country for the better and that will continue to give us the strength we need to persevere.” – Barack Obama, 2016
3. Express yourself
As with every problem, we need to express our outrage and fears. We need to “get it out.” I have been comforted by talking to friends who share my values. Together, we are brainstorming solutions and considering ways we can personally promote our reality.
Ask yourself: How can I expand my awareness today? With whom can I share my truth? How can I help? These are the intimate questions we must answer to experience huge and hopeful results.
Now more than ever, we need to help build community. Get busy planning or doing what you can to make your neighborhood, your schools, your local government, or your world a better place. Volunteering for the greater good also puts you in a constructive state of mind. It is neurologically uplifting.
5. Self Care
Be well. If we do not take care of ourselves, we can not take care of others. If we are not balanced ourselves, we will create imbalance for others.
“When you Eat clean, Sleep Well, Seek Peace, and hit your Stride, you will feel better about yourself and you will be more able to help others feel better about themselves. You will be more balanced, and you will have more energy to give to others. You will exude joy, and you will help make the world a better place in which to live.”
from Eat, Sleep, Seek, Stride
Postscript: Advice from Others
- Get involved in your community.
- Support women and girls.
- Promote love and kindness where you live.
- Run for office
Marianne Williamson, bestselling author and spiritual teacher offers this paradoxical advice:
“Pray first of all for Trump himself, that he be healed of his mental dysfunctions.
We have to hold the painful juxtaposition of … conflicting truths: that a deeply problematical and unprepared politician has won the presidency, yet we must pray for him and his administration in order to protect our government, our country, and ourselves from ruin.”
An Ivy League graduate and early Wellness pioneer, Theodora Wilner, MA, RYT, HC, was the Director of the California Governor’s Council on Wellness & Physical Fitness. She has been a Wellness Advisor for almost 30 years. Her new book, Eat, Sleep, Seek, Stride: An Autobiographical Wellness Guide is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Free health assessment with book purchase.
40% off 7- Day “Coached Kickstart Cleanse” in January