“My side’s right, your side is wrong.”
“The state of our country’s health depends on this one moment!”
“We can’t have THAT monster in office!”
Sound familiar right now? These are the same thoughts we referenced four, eight, 12, 16, 20 years ago, and so on. We are in a time of political fear and inflammation fueled by a sense of dire urgency. All party affiliation aside, it seems like this mentality is common to both sides.
If you are at all interested in your health, then you are likely familiar with the notion that most inflammation is unhealthy. It is the toxic byproduct of a cellular organism unable to function efficiently. It is the state that arises from our cells spitting out too much toxic waste in the form of free radicals. Inflammation can happen in the brain as well, causing us emotional dysregulation, cognitive impairment, and a predisposition to our more primitive responses as we exhaust our ability to think clearly or hold ourselves to higher standards.
What Does Neuroscience Have To Say?
Current neuroscience has shed some light on a very interesting relationship between a fear-based mentality of “us and them,” and a predisposition to our primitive or limbic response to the world. It seems that perpetuating a life built upon scarcity, fear, and scare tactics can literally support a state of inflammation in the body.
When we predominantly use our limbic functioning to govern our behaviors, we are basically running the body in a chronic state of stress or arousal. This state of elevated stress hormones, inflammation markers, and blood sugar is not a sustainable state. In fact, we now know something about the way this chronic arousal state inhibits the rational and problem-solving portion of our mind, causing us to become reactive and impulsive.
In a study done on self-reported political affiliation, it was shown that one’s neurophysiology changed considerably when viewing faces of candidates in the opposing party. If, by nature, we are spending much of our waking state this election year being bombarded by the need strongly affiliate with us’s and vehemently oppose the thems, then it stands to reason our inflamed emotions and perception are strong correlates for the limbic response. Being reactive and impulsive gets easier, more frequent, and much more the norm of our behavior. No quality long-term behavior comes from this state.
A Brain-Based Approach To Balance
So the issue becomes how to self regulate in the midst of an “us and them” heated political time. Here are three tips to help you during this time of political inflammation.
- Balance as much political news with breaks from media. Take extra time to nurture the self with walks in the park, dedicated time to listen to your favorite music, exercise, and revisit your hobbies.
- Practice putting yourself in someone else’s shoes each day. Choose someone you consider to be neutral in your life, like maybe the mailman or someone else. Spend five minutes imagining you are them and what it would be like to have those day to day experiences. Practicing empathy can be a powerful way to exercise the opposite of an “us and them” predisposition.
- Bring your diet into balance where sugar becomes less prominent and fats and proteins come into balance on your plate. A good balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is a great way to support the self-regulation systems and address the inflammation that arises from chronic stress or fear arousal.
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Lisa Wimberger is the founder of the Neurosculpting® Institute. She holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Stonybrook, NY and a Foundations Certification in NeuroLeadership. She is the author of NEW BELIEFS, NEW BRAIN: Free Yourself from Stress and Fear. Lisa is a neuroplastician running a private healing and psychic practice in Colorado teaching clients who suffer from stress disorders, and she is a faculty member of Kripalu Yoga and Meditation Center, and the Law Enforcement Survival Institute.
Lisa began her meditation practice at age 12. Hit by lightning at age 15, and clinically dead on multiple occasions, Lisa uses her traumatic experience as a vehicle for transformation. Lisa studied Ascension training for four years with Ishaya monks. She completed four years of psychic awareness training, applying the tools of the Berkeley Psychic Institute, and is trained in Autogenic Hypnosis. Lisa is the Founder of the Trance Personnel Consulting Group and Ripple Effect, LLC. She has created and facilitated leadership trainings for executive teams in Fortune 500 companies, the Colorado Department of Health Care and worked individually with international management. She has created and facilitated Emotional Survival programs for Colorado Law Enforcement Agencies and peer counsel groups. Lisa writes for the Elephant Journal and CopsAlive. Additionally, Lisa’s services are sought on a national level by individuals in law enforcement looking to find a new way to navigate through their stress patterns. Lisa is a public speaker, and has addressed audiences ranging from corporate leaders to FBI and Secret Service. Lisa is a member of the National Center for Crisis Management and ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association). Her mission to share practical and powerful stress management techniques to those in need caused Lisa to develop her Neurosculpting® programs combining neuroscience principles with mindfulness and energetic modalities.
Study Source: Kaplan, Jonas T., Freedman, Joshua, Lacoboni, Marco. (2007) Us versus them: Political attitudes and party affiliation influence neural response to faces of presidential candidates. Neuropsychologia, 45(1)