Reducing Post Election Stress

November 19, 2008

KATHY RADINAAlmost everyone I know cried election night. Some with tears of happiness, others with tears of fear and frustration, but I haven’t spoken to anyone who was 100 percent satisfied with the election results. Some of my friends are managing their disappointment well, but others are showing signs of what I’m going to refer to as, “post election stress.” While there are many ways to manage stress, here are a few of my favorites for this particular situation.

1. Increase your heartbeat for at least 20 minutes a day. And don’t give me any excuses. The weather is nice, and it’s not like I’m saying, “go to the gym” or engage in an organized sport. You can stand up right now, with the paper in your hand and walk around the chair briskly, clean the house in a jog, do yard work, ride a bike with the children, or throw the ball around. The idea is to get endorphins. They help reduce stress and you need some every day.

2. Face reality. Spending valuable time wishing things were different creates stress, working with the facts can help keep us focused on what needs to be done. Barak Obama is the new president, and same sex marriage is not legal in Arizona. If either of these events is upsetting to you, use that energy to fight for change. Release it; don’t let it fester inside of you.

3. Create a calm environment. One of my most stressed friends lives in a house where “hate radio” is playing non-stop. I suggested that she get an MP3 player, download some favorite songs and put the earplugs in her ears. Radio is meant to be entertaining but if it is stressing to you, block it out. Oh, and don’t listen to the other side’s “hate” either. That is even more stress provoking.

4. Release anger appropriately. Anger, like sexual desire, is normal, and holding on to anger causes stress. (We can talk about sex another time.) Talking to someone safe, or writing privately are good ways to release anger, as is jogging until you feel better or screaming in a room when no one is home; yelling at the children, or driving the car fast is not. If you are frustrated with the election, finding suitable release will help.

5. Stay present. The people I know who are the most upset about Nov. 4 are those who go into the future with their imaginations and see catastrophe. Catastrophe may happen, and it doesn’t hurt to make a plan, (like the people who are buying bullets and guns because they fear the second amendment will be destroyed) but worrying about the future in the present is stressful. Take a breath and become conscious of what is happening right now, in this moment. If you are in crisis right now, act. If the calamity happens in the future, you can deal with it in that moment. If you are safe now, acknowledge that reality and enjoy it.

6. Laugh. You know when you are starting to heal when you can laugh about some of this. To get things started, let me leave you with this quote by Ronald Reagan,

“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”

Kathy Radina, M.Ed. is a counselor in Carefree. She can be reached at 480-488-6096 or visit