Are the Midterm Elections Stressing You Out? Exercise

Are the statewide and national elections stressing you out? Try exercising.

The endless hours of news coverage about the “fate of national politics” and potential xenophobia have taken a toll on the mental health of many Americans, causing stress levels to be exacerbated. The daily coverage that has been impossible not to watch is leaving many adults – especially senior citizens – feeling depressed and afraid for their personal state of affairs.

Therapists contend that the anxiety is real, especially given the other stresses of daily, normal life.

“There is an overall feeling of doom, dread and apprehension,” said Robin Morris, a therapist at Brook Lane of North Village in Hagerstown, Maryland, about previous elections. “I have many clients who say, ‘We are doomed.’ Their regular struggles have become magnified…”

Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress, according to research into the effect of exercise on neurochemicals involved in the body’s stress response.

Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

In my experience as a Certified Athletic Trainer and the owner of Fitness for Health, a therapeutic, exercise facility working with children through senior citizens in the Washington, DC, area, I have seen firsthand how routine physical activity can help prevent and treat depression while stabilizing mood, which in turn contributes to the motivation needed to keep exercising.  It is scientifically proven that exercising can improve your mental and physical health alike.

Additionally, the meditation app, Headspace, started offering a new “Politics Pack” for free this week with meditations to help you cope through midterm elections stress.  None of the meditation exercises are expressly political, nor do they cater to a specific political position. Instead, they offer ways to cope with some of the feelings you might experience when reading political news.

So, what are you waiting for? Take a break from watching the election results tonight and invite your family to walk around the block with you, play on the neighborhood playground or do a few yoga stretches during a CNN commercial break. You need to take a few minutes to just breathe and remember that, no matter who wins the elections tonight, you are ultimately in control of your own destiny.

To learn how Fitness for Health can help you improve your mind-body connection utilizing state-of-the-art fitness technology, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138.