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Eli Davidson

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Election Anxiety: As Serious As A Heart Attack

Posted: 10/30/08 10:19 AM ET

Do your teeth ache and stomach churn every time you read about new ways to keep voters from the polls? Republican robocalls are telling voters in Colorado that they can vote early -- on the phone. The phony Virginia Board of Elections flier is circulating the state "advising Republicans to vote on Nov. 4 and Democrats on Nov. 5." The North Carolina ballot currently in use doesn't register its voters' presidential vote. Students at Virginia Tech are being told that they will lose their scholarship if they vote. Do these frauds make you feel angry or powerless?

Healing The Palin Effect

My last post illuminated that the angry chill of the politics of division was working. Sarah Palin showed that our collective spiritual temperature was low and our anger was high. I was not alone in having relationships shredded by the ugliness of this election. Obamafan62 said, "I too thought I was alone. My family is full of Palin lovers and it has severely affected our relationships. My family truly believes Obama is a terrorist... we were a close family once, but I can't stand to be in the same room."

Many of us see the value of compassion. However, actually reaching "across the aisle" with your own family members or friends is too highly charged. We are right and they are wrong. II believe that you and I will need to be leaders in helping to rebuild our nation the coming months. Even though it seems counter intuitive, I am convinced that venting is the first step in becoming a bridge builder. Why? It's tough to be a good listener when you are all riled up.

As Serious As A Heart Attack

The election (and the last eight years) may be weighing on your heart. Literally.

The relationship between anger and heart disease are well known. New studies show that a hostile attitude (even if the anger is expressed) raises your risk of heart disease. Dr. Redford Williams conducted a research study with 255 physicians at the Duke University Medical Center. He studied the doctor's standard personality test over a twenty-five year period. Those physicians in the top half of the hostility scale suffered five to six times more heart attacks than those in the lower half.

This is even tougher on women because they are more uncomfortable with expressing anger. A long-term study from the University of Minnesota revealed that women (more than men) who suppressed their anger had a higher mortality rate over time. Wait it gets worse. Married women who suppressed anger with their spouses had twice the mortality risk as other women. Ouch. This is why I believe it's so healthy to vent with intent. Set your intention to express your feeling and then take a positive step.

Yelling Isn't Going To Fix It Conventional wisdom has told us that venting your anger is important. New studies are finding that the opposite may be true. Simply spewing anger isn't healing. Dr. Carol Tavris, author of 'Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion,'' (Simon & Schuster) claims that ''People who are most prone to give vent to their rage get angrier, not less angry.'' I believe that anger is a powerful energy that can be used in a creative way. Creating a ritual, setting an intention to let go of your anger and focus on what you want instead are important components of healthy venting.

Write, Baby, Write Take fifteen minutes. Get a pen and paper (a computer doesn't work as well) and write out all the things you are angry about. At the end of the session rip up the paper. The ritual of being able to rip up those issues that are making you angry is an important component to letting it go. Next write out what you intend to do to make your contribution to a better world.

Sweat, Baby, Sweat Put on those running shoes and run around the block. Some studies show that having early morning light is very healing. The body releases endorphins that fight the ravages of stress when you exercise.

Dance, Baby, Dance Turning on your favorite disco anthem or going out dancing is a fabulous way to vent. I was introduced to this by the brilliant Gay and Katie Hendricks. I find it is a powerful outlet to reveal your feelings in a creative way. I call it "Shake What Your Mamma Gave You." Come on. Even if you don't want to write or run -- you know you can dance. Breathe, shake it out, get connected, get fun, get freaky.

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Ask Eli a question at info@elidavidson.com or go to www.elidavidson.com to tell my how you are venting your election anxiety.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized executive coach and motivational speaker.

Her book, Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for The Savvy, Sassy and Swamped, (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards.

 
 
 

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