Functional medicine tips for election recovery

election recovery copy

Weathering one of the most acrimonious elections in U.S. history can be hard on health. Fortunately, functional medicine offers some strategies to help take the edge off.

Prolonged heightened stress  fear, anger, and negativity have been shown to harmfully impact the body in the following ways:

Raises inflammation. Heightened stress and negativity can inflame joints, cause skin breakouts, disrupt brain function, upset the stomach, provoke respiratory problems, and trigger headaches.

Triggers anxiety, depression, and/or insomnia. People have lost sleep and become anxious and depressed this election year. Chronic stress keeps the central nervous system in a heightened state, chipping away at your health.

Causes stomach aches and abdominal symptoms. Chronic stress ravages the gut, predisposing one to pain, inflammation, and digestive upsets.

Tightens muscles. Chronic stress keeps the body in a fight-or-flight state, with the muscles constantly tense.

Imbalances hormones. Stress hormones can devastate the delicate balance of hormones in both women and men. This can impact menstrual cycles, libido, and the brain.

Causes brain fog and memory loss. Because chronic stress and negativity are so inflammatory, the brain may become inflamed as well. Common symptoms of brain inflammation are brain fog, depression, and memory loss.

Weakens or over stimulates immunity. Chronic stress weakens the immune system so that you’re more susceptible to illness. It can also over stimulate it so that autoimmune conditions flare up.

Promotes high blood pressure and respiratory stress. Chronic stress constricts the blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and inflames respiratory conditions.

Encourage addiction and bad habits. Chronic stress makes people more prone to addictive behaviors.

Healthy ways to buffer the effects of election stress

Stress is a normal function that serves a survival purpose. The trick is to rebound from it appropriately.

Although it’s tempting to mix a drink or pop a Xanax, aim for functional medicine tips that ease election anxiety and support your health:

Take an adrenal adaptogen supplement. These herbs help buffer the body and brain during stress. Examples include ginseng, ashwagandha, holy basil, rhodiola, eleuthero, and pantethine.

Connect with others. Seek out like-minded friends and do something fun. Positive socialization is a well-documented health booster.

Release feel-good hormones through exercise. Exercise can’t be beat in the face of chronic stress and negativity. It floods your body with feel-good hormones that improve health and brain function. Just be careful not to overdo it, over exercising stresses and inflames the body.

Find unidentified causes of stress. Much of our stress today comes from factors we’re not even aware of. Unstable blood sugar is the most common. Unidentified food sensitivities, such as to gluten or dairy, is also common. Chemical sensitivities, anemia, unmanaged autoimmunity, leaky gut, and infections are examples of health issues that keep one in a state of chronic stress.

Practice positivity. Although it’s important to allow and process any negative emotions, at some point it’s helpful to practice positivity, something science shows is vital to good health.

By taking better care of your health and managing how outside events affect you, you have a better chance of having a more positive impact on your own life and the people around you.

Did stress push you off the healthy habits wagon? How to get back on track

stress derailed health habits

It seems the times when we most need to support ourselves with healthy habits is when we are most apt to fall off the wagon. It can happen during major life changes or stressors, such as a move, the end of a relationship, or change in job status. Although the desire to comfort ourselves with sweets, junk foods, and too many days off from the gym are powerful, in the long run slacking off just adds to the stress. Instead of beating yourself up (which just causes even more stress), honor the fact that you’re in a tough spot and take small measures to slowly work your way back into a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Once you see how even the smallest changes transform into more energy and peace of mind it will motivate you to increasingly expand what you include in your healthy habits routine.

With that in mind, here are some gentle and easy steps to keep you from getting sucked into the abyss of destructive habits during stressful times.

Go for a walk. Have you stopped working out? Then walking is a gentle, pleasurable way to reawaken your physical body while settling the mind. Exercise is a magic bullet when it comes to health, but too much exercise stresses the body and causes inflammation. If a major life stressor has you feeling weaker and more tired than normal, that may be your body’s way of telling you it needs extra rest to cope. Walking’s physical benefits are only part of the story; research shows walking, especially in a natural environment, lowers stress, anxiety, and depression while boosting energy.

Make veggie smoothies. When we’re beset by stress, healthy cooking can seem overwhelming. Frozen pizza or bowls of cereal may feel comforting at first, but their effects on your blood sugar stability and brain chemistry will soon spike stress levels. One way to outsmart comfort-food cravings is to make veggie smoothies. Simply combine a few different vegetables, such as carrots, celery, beet, some salad or leafy greens, cucumber, avocado, ginger, etc. with filtered water, a small bit of fruit for taste and, if desired, some lemon juice and salt. People with hypothyroidism should be careful not to overuse raw cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, or broccoli as it can inhibit thyroid function. Also, avoid the temptation to rely on all fruit smoothies or the use of super-sweet additions such as pineapple or fruit juice. The high sugar content creates stress for the body, something you don’t need more of.

Eating lots of veggies also improves the balance of your gut bacteria, which play a profound role in mood, stress, weight, and immunity.

Don’t be a hermit. When stress is high it’s tempting to retreat under a rock, but isolation can compound your troubles. Ample research has shown the stress-lowering and health-boosting benefits of healthy socialization. Get together with friends, join meetup.com groups, take classes, go to church…being around other people boosts feel-good brain chemicals and is a reminder you’re not the only one with big life struggles.