Being a doctor makes you a confidant to people. Over the years, I have seen elections come and go and people
reacting to the political climate in various ways. Naturally, there is always a dichotomy: someone is rejoicing and someone is upset. What I have never seen before though, is the intensity of the negative emotions currently projected by some folks and the consequent chronic stress affecting the quality of their lives.
Exposure to political stress can lead to significant biochemical shifts in our body, and can disrupt homeostasis. This causes continuous elevated cortisol secretion, which promotes hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. At the same time, dopamine and serotonin – the body’s natural endorphins get downregulated – creating a perfect milieu for depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Prolonged stress may lead to cancer, autoimmune diseases, and chronic fatigue. Other conditions that often develop are pain syndromes, gastric ulcers, and irritable bowel. Most people expect a doctor to address their health problems by whipping out a prescription pad and writing for a medication that will end suffering. Unfortunately, an angry and disempowered person treated with pills will remain unbalanced, conflicted, and artificially numb to reality. So, how do we get to the source of the problem and make the stressed person feel whole again?
My recommendations for the ‘do it yourself at home’ destressing calls for a mind shift from politics to an exciting and fulfilling endeavor and engaging as many of your five senses with it as possible, because as I described in my book ‘Diet Slave No More!’ new habits are wired more strongly and effectively if you see, hear, and feel the material you are working with.
Here is the thing: we, humans, love feeling worthy and capable of great accomplishments. One easy way to derive these positive emotions is by communicating with beings that are small, weak, or in need. The two things that come to my mind, which meet all of these requirements are children and pets. Both are innocent and fragile and cause us to feel unconditional love. I find children and pets to be great emotional pills or antidotes for chronic political stress. It turns out that when we care for the weak or the helpless children or pets – we make chemicals in our brain, such as oxytocin, which trigger powerful happy emotions.
Music is another effective de-stressing modality we can turn to. Listening to relaxing and tranquil music has been shown to decrease blood pressure and heart rate and create a peaceful state of mind. In fact, since we humans are over 70% water and sound changes water structure -soothing music produces a harmonizing effect on the architecture of water crystals.
Folks aggravated by political stress will also benefit from spending more creative time in the kitchen. Cooking can be extremely therapeutic. It engages areas of the brain responsible for planning, strategizing, and coordinating, to mention a few. If you spend a lot of time in front of the TV, start watching more comedy and romance and less news and politics. Laughing and making jokes and listening to them have been demonstrated to release dopamine – one of the brain’s happy chemicals. Indeed, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
There are endless ways to replace the daily routine of sadness and resentment with peace and forgiveness. It does not matter which of the activities proposed by me suits you best, whether it is planting a tree, or tending to your garden, or visiting the grandmother you have not seen in years – whatever you choose to do, just make sure to invest as much of yourself into it as possible.
Revisit the happy activity over and over, until you feel whole again, and all that’s left is love. By caring for someone or something, you are really fixing yourself, and that kind of remedy can never be matched by a pill.
Dr. Kogan is a Concierge Holistic Internal Medicine doctor in Naples.
Her website is CustomLongevity.com