The two year gladiatorial contest otherwise known as Election 2016 has been over for two days now, hopefully with no added complications as in Election 2000. As I am writing this beforehand, I don’t yet know who the next President will be. However, I think we all should be mindful that whoever wins, whether the Blue team or the Red team, and however much their supporters believe in the rightness and righteousness of their cause, two fifths of the country is bound to be dismayed and troubled by the results. And up to a third of our upstanding, fellow citizens may well be extremely upset. Displays of schadenfreude are not in order.
I vividly recall that after Election 2000, given the messy result that lasted for weeks and weeks before it was resolved, therapists in NYC were working full out dealing with high anxiety levels of clients, old and new. Similarly, the New York Times is already reporting that according to the American Psychological Association, over 52% of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, “say that the election is a major source of stress”. Indeed, a tremendous amount of fear has been injected into the rhetoric of this campaign, and everyone’s cortisol level has been elevated through the manifold twists and turns of the October and November surprises. It has not been a regular Election by any means with results known far in advance. Our respective teams have been fighting it out “to the death” for a year in the national media. So now we have to transition our nervous systems from the fight or flight mode we have been stuck in back to a healthful rest and restore.
My advice for reducing personal stress on both sides is holistic in approach. In my town in Northern Westchester, NY, we are extremely blessed to inhabit a beautiful corner of the world. With the rolling hills and dales, it has long reminded me of Tolkien’s description of Hobbiton. At times, walking through its woods, there are trees with such fabulous, anthropormorphic shapes, that they easily call to mind Tolkien’s vision of a forest of Ents.
In other words, there is a whole beautiful world out there to connect with that will assist us in regaining equanimity of spirit. And that will, in turn, help us gain perspective about any festering disappointments we may feel over the results of the election. Nature walks and horseback riding with friends, family members and pets while we watch the remaining colors of autumn linger on, fade and fall will aid us in restoring our sense of harmony and peace. And with that will come a wider sense of purpose. It’s also time to tackle those last tasks we have been avoiding of cleaning up the garden before winter or planting bulbs that help magnify the glory of spring. With winter coming, the time has arrived to begin that meditation or yoga practice that we’ve been interested in starting but have put off, again and again.
Instead of focusing outwards, towards the state of the Nation, let us spend some time focusing inwards, on the health and wellbeing of our own selves. That way, when our marvelous national holiday of Thanksgiving rolls around in a few more weeks, we be at peace and thankful for the great blessings that life in our country bestows on all of us.