Post Election Stress – Healing Meaningfully – is it possible?
By Svetlana Kogan, MD
Every four years our great country holds an election. Consequently, every four years, folks who have been rooting for a winner rejoice, while those who have associated with the candidate who lost, feel sad and disempowered. We are used to this dichotomy and know how to behave accordingly. However, this year’s pre-and post-election stress has been so intense and prolonged, causing so many people to lose their sleep and peace of mind, that as a doctor, I feel concerned.
Post-election stress has many faces. For the millennials, the emotional wounds are often very raw and painful. However, they are quick to forget and shift their focus to other things they are passionate about. After all, the young people go places, see people, engage in active social life – and all of that helps to heal. For the older folks, however, post-election disillusionment is subtler in nature.
Patients tell me that it feels like a disappointment and almost a personal failure. The gnawing question: ‘How could this happen?’ is slowly eating at you, and the days become bleak and without hope. That’s why I think it is so important for people to be cognizant of the two kinds of biochemical reactions inside our brains, which trigger emotions. Most of us have heard of “happiness neurotransmitters”, like dopamine and serotonin, the release of which produces happy emotions.
Ever-rising stocks of pharmaceutical companies producing anti-depressants is a testament to that. However, the side effects of these types of medication are horrendous. Integrative and holistic doctors like myself try to look beyond the band-aid approach and seek natural solutions for post-election stress.
And let’s face it: the stress is becoming chronic, with TV, radio, and Internet reminding us 24/7 of the things that make us agitated and anxious. You are all intelligent and mature people and are well aware of the health disasters caused by chronic stress: cancers, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases to mention a few. On of the things that gets completely ignored is a different category of biochemical reactions, which produces bad mood.
Political news, for example, which are interpreted by our five senses as undesirable, will trigger these negative type of biochemical reactions and lead to a vast range of negative emotions: from feeling somewhat blue to being very depressed. When bad emotions dominate your day, you feel completely out of balance psychologically and eventually, physically. So, how do we restore our inner balance and find our peace in this hectic post-election life? Believe it or not, coping skills like humming ‘I will survive!’ and avoiding politically charged media are not enough. First of all, the damage has already been done and you have already experienced distress – denial is unproductive. We cannot undo feeling down.
At this point, you are probably expecting me to grab my doctor’s prescription pad and…Well, I don’t like a quick fix and hope that my advice can help you without medications. The good news is that we can create new scenarios in our daily life, which will trigger powerful biochemical release producing positive emotions. These triggers have to be very intense to serve as the antidote to the post-election feeling of being run over by the truck when you least expected it. In addition, the “happy triggers” have to occur repeatedly, as a way of life, to bring your Mind-Body back to its sound balance.
It’s hard to recommend a universal source of positive emotions – happiness is a personal thing. But after almost 20 years of clinical practice, I can say with confidence that all of us love feeling great, worthy, and accomplished. And what better way to feel all of the above than by sharing your time with those who are
- Those in need
The two things that come to my mind that meet all or most of these criteria are Children and Pets. I think we all agree that either is unconditionally loved by all of us. The fragility and innocence of either pets or children, especially the sick ones, can motivate us to move mountains to help them out somehow. While caring for those in need, we release large amounts of neurotransmitters causing happy emotions. Perhaps, for some other people this emotional reward can be derived from taking care of sick plants or feeding the poor. There are so many people, animals, and things we could tend to if we just look around and become mindful of those around us.
The ultimate choice is ours; do we want to continue feeling angry and tormented or do we choose to feel wonderful while making someone happy?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Svetlana Kogan, MD, practices holistic and integrative medicine at her clinic in New York City. She created ‘Diet Slave No More!’ a fun literary journey into yourself, offering readers a brand new approach to healthy living and to handling weight issues. A Cornell University graduate, she received a scholarship from the National Institute of Health for her achievements in diabetes research. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology from Cornell University and an M.D. degree from Sackler School of Medicines New York State Program. Dr.Kogan is a Master Hypnotherapist certified by the Local 472 Union and is experienced in Ayurvedic Healing, Herbology, and Energy Treatment. When you are getting an Integrative Physical Exam from Dr.Kogan – you are getting a 360-degree assessment of your Mind-Body needs. She is experienced in both Western and Eastern medical philosophies and fuses the best of both to bring you the ultimate experience in the 21st century preventive physical exam.
Dr. Kogan is an active member of both the American Medical Association and the Hypnotherapists Union. She has authored numerous print and online articles, including her own magazine, and has appeared as a medical expert on national television.
A patient observer of life and an outside the box thinker, Dr. Kogan has pioneered her own vision of mind-body medicine, where the best of what Eastern and Western philosophies can offer, are applied towards patients’ well-being and longevity. She has also developed a revolutionary Uberdoctor™ encounter, which allows her to communicate with patients around the world