11/30/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Election Anxiety: As Serious As A Heart Attack

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.

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
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

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.


Ask Eli a question at or go to to
tell my how you are venting your election anxiety.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized executive coach and motivational

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