Write Away Election Stress

FingerPointAs much as we’d like to forget it all, it’s hard. Who can forget the finger pointing, the name calling, the conversations you tried not to have before November 8? We hoped it would end the next day, but we knew, most of us knew anyway, that it wouldn’t.

Here we are now, stressed, burned out and perhaps more divided than ever. Half the country is rejoicing that they managed to Trump the so-called self-righteous, socialistic feminists represented by That Woman. “Change is finally possible,” they crow. “We can get back to true values, to democracy as it was intended to be.” And on it goes.

On the flip side are those who were either Hillary’s True Believers as well as many who may not have preferred That Woman, but they claim a trained seal would be better than that devious, inexperienced, misogynistic bully. The sudden triumph of Trump seemed unimaginable and that half of the country is in deep mourning, highly traumatized.

“How can they believe all that stuff?”

“How can they just throw out all the progress we’ve made?”

And on it goes.

We’ll see how things unfold in the future, but for the present, our collective national life stress index is off the map.

The medical community has been warning us about the negative health effects of stress for over fifty years. We know it leads to cardiovascular problems, lowered immunity, depression, and a host of other ills. So what's a person to do?Lists of stress management techniques abound. A search for "stress management" turned up 16 million links. WebMD has two pages of tips, and many more of links and articles.

Fortunately, one of the simplest ways to offset the stressful effects of trauma is to pick up pen and paper and write about your thoughts, feelings, fears and perceptions. Original research showed that writing for as little as twenty minutes about troubling topics may boost your immune system and lead to numerous health benefits reversing the ravages of stress. Research has repeatedly shown enhanced cardio-vascular function, lower blood pressure, reduced asthma and arthritis symptoms, decreased need for pain medication in many instances, and more. Emotional health benefits such as relief from depression, better sleep, and enhanced sense of well-being are also common.

More recent studies have shown measurable results from writing for five or ten minutes a day, or even writing once for a few minutes. It’s undeniably clear that expressive writing is good for your health! Expressive writing is not a panacea intended to replace medical care, but it often serves as an effective adjunct, enhancing effects of any treatment you may undergo. It's affordable for anyone, and can be done anywhere.

In our current situation, you can make it even more effective by expanding your writing to include attempts to understand the perspective of those on the other side of the electoral divide. Think and write as deeply about their fears, hopes and concerns as you do your own. You may find you have more in common than you imagined. You may discover deeper compassion for others as well as your self and begin to rebuild community that may have suffered over the last several months.

Please leave a comment about ways you are using writing to recover from election stress, along with any other tips you may have.


Amber Starfire said...

Sharon, thank you for your post this morning. Sometimes it seems (and this is one those times) when writing is all I have that will help. I write through stress and I write through depression. I write to understand others and to understand my own reactions. I write to find a place of gratitude within myself and to find the catalyst that will move me from despair to action. I write to express myself privately and to relieve stress, but also to access my inner wisdom from which I derive strength and balance.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thanks Amber for the awesome list of reasons to write. You pack so much into so few words. Keep those fingers flying!

Amy said...

I have in fact done this---on my blog and on Facebook and in emails to friends. It has helped me to clarify my feelings. But alas, the stress remains. And for many, many of us, Hillary was not simply the lesser of two evils, but a candidate we respected and trusted and believed would not just be "better" than Trump, but an excellent President.

In case you missed my blog post, it's here: https://brotmanblog.com/2016/11/09/no-genealogy-today/

Sharon Lippincott said...

Amy, first of all, let me apologize to you and all of Hillary's army of fans. I should have been more clear that Camp Clinton included more than one contingent.

As for writing emails, Facebook posts, and such things, those are not without value, but often tend to reinforce negativity among writers and readers. The writing I refer to, expressive writing, is never intended for others to read. It's a form of freewriting that allows you to explore more deeply without concerns about grammar, judgement and all the other things that hamper full expression. Writing exercises in the several hundred research studies was always private.

It's been years since I posted on this topic. Time for some reruns!

Sharon Lippincott said...

For those who read later, I edited the post to clarify diversity within Clinton's supporters.

Amy said...

Thanks for the clarifications--both of the existence of many people who supported Hillary because she was Hillary, not in spite of that fact, and of what kind of writing is useful for stress reduction. Although my writing ends up public on the blog and/or Facebook, it starts with me just writing what I am feeling. Not sure that works the same way though. I will have to try the free writing approach!

Dancing Palmtrees said...

I wrote from the viewpoint of a Veteran as I am a US Army Veteran and today November 11th is Veteran's Day. Here is my blog post.


Sharon Lippincott said...

Thank your for sharing your link, DeBorah. Your words move me deeply. I rely on blog posts like yours to open my eyes and heart to the depths of fear and despair experienced by minorities in this country. I encourage all my readers to read your post, All Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Don't skip the comments.