I think most Americans will agree with me when I say this election season has been extremely stressful. What makes matters worse is that our country is completely divided, like worse than ever! Some people don't hold back about how they feel, while others choose to keep their opinions to themselves. One thing we can say about each other is that in some ways we are alike, but in other ways we are different. That may seem like an obvious statement, but I feel like many people need to be reminded of that.
My husband and I have had numerous conversations about the election and one thing we always chat about is how it baffles us that two people can see things so differently. And both sides think their way is right and the other way is wrong. For example, the well respected former first lady, Barbara Bush, can't understand how a woman can vote for Donald Trump. Yet there are plenty of women voting for him. On the other hand, you have actor John Voight releasing a plea to save America by supporting Trump. And then there is Susan Sarandon, who leans far left, saying she is unsure if she can support Hillary Clinton. These are both unusual statements and actions for Hollywood actors. This is just another example of how unpredictable this election season has become. They have strong reasons for their stance and I believe what it comes down to is people have different needs, interests, passions, and beliefs that affect how they feel about the election. To say one person's views are wrong is simply not a fair accusation, especially since half of our country agrees with them.
To make matters more stressful, whether you are watching TV, browsing online, or are active in any social media platform, you have likely seen or heard the massive smear campaigns that we are bombarded with. The frustrating thing about this is I believe for the most part, this will not affect how people vote. If you are a firm Hillary supporter, there is nothing the media or politicians can say to change your mind about her. And if you stand by Trump, you are going to stand by him no matter what. So basically the media and politicians are wasting their time and money trying to sway our stance. Most citizens have made up their mind based on views and issues are important to them. Each candidates' view on issues are vastly different. So the negative information you read on Hillary or Trump isn't enough to say, "That's it, I'm going in the other direction." Just not happening people. One conclusion we can draw from this election is some of the leaders in our country do not seem to know how to get along like mature adults. How can this behavior possibly make any of us feel good about who ends up moving into the White House? Once the election is over, are the two sides going to magically kiss and make up while agreeing to work together for the good of the American people? I'm not holding my breath!
For most of us, this particular election season has made us more passionate about politics, has opened our eyes to the process, and has taught us a lot about human behavior. Over the past couple of weeks, my family has had the opportunity to put what we have learned into practice when my younger son announced he would be running for class president. He was creative in selecting his campaign slogan as he knew it was important to have the right tagline. As for the campaign itself, it was important to him to be respectful to his opponent. I'm proud of him for how he demonstrated maturity and humbleness during this process. And finally, he did not want to build a campaign built on empty promises. We talked about having realistic goals when he came to making his peers happy. Don't make promises you can't keep. I'm happy to say he was successful in staying true to his convictions and goals and ended up winning the election! He is now the junior class president and is taking his new role seriously. How I do pray our new president will follow suit!
As citizens, what can we do to stop the division in our country? Agree to disagree respectfully and move on. Show the politicians and various media outlets how it's done by working together. Understand and accept that another person may not think or feel the same way you do. Many of us have family and friends who fall into this category as well. Don't allow the election to fracture relationships, especially when it comes to those we love and care about. And how about when it comes to strangers or an acquaintance? Show the same amount of respect towards them as you would hope to receive in return. Nothing in this country is going to get better until people put forth an effort to make changes. While much of this may feel out of our hands, our actions are not. One kind gesture leads to another. Before you know it, kindness spreads beyond your four walls and breeds like crazy in your community. It's a similar concept to let's say a popular pin on Pinterest. On November 8th, half of this country will be elated while the other half will feel a major let down. Collectively, we can pick up the pieces of the brokenness, bitterness, and animosity that have been building for months. In turn, use those pieces to rebuild something better between our citizens and communities. We have nothing to lose by trying, because at this point, it's hard to put our trust in our leaders and politicians to bring unity. And let's not forget, our nation is in trouble. We are dealing with some pretty serious issues. If we are on the same team despite our differences, our nation would be much stronger.
Phew, okay, now that I said my peace, let's address the fact that our health has been affected greatly by the shenanigans surrounding this political season. Blood pressure readings have risen, cholesterol levels are not optimal, fatigue has set in, tempers are flaring, people are irritable, well, you get the point. We need help! The way our body responds to stress for immediate short term problems is totally suitable for dealing with day to day situations. But when the stress piles on and your body has no reprieve, it really takes a toll on our health. Stress hormones can cause our blood pressure to rise and our heart is working too hard for too long. When we are under stress, our liver produces extra glucose to give us a boost of energy. Any blood sugar not needed will get reabsorbed into our body. So if we are under chronic stress, it is likely that we cannot keep up with this extra glucose. That puts us at risk for type 2 diabetes. Our digestive system is also affected. Some possible symptoms are acid reflux, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting. Muscle and body aches may develop due to the tension that continues to build. We are also more susceptible to viruses, infections, and diseases as our immune system is taxed. This does not sound like a fun way to live.
It's time to go into repair and restore mode. Meditation can be a huge benefit to our overall health. Try to set aside at least 20 minutes a day to enjoy this moment of peace. Getting adequate sleep is a huge healer as well. Go to bed earlier and disconnect from anything that can be a stimulant at least an hour prior. Get your body moving by exercising on a regular basis. This is such an impactful stress reliever due to the endorphins produced. These endorphins are natural pain killers to our body and these endorphins help us sleep. Those things reduce stress as well as give us energy and boost our self esteem. Of course, last but not least, eat a heart healthy diet. There are many foods that offer our bodies healing and nourishment. When we are dealing with stress and its effects, focusing on our heart is important.
A variety of foods provide amazing benefits to our heart. You will find a few of those in this stress busting smoothie bowl.
Walnuts - proven to lower LDL cholesterol, rich in a plant based essential omega-3's which has anti-inflammatory effects
Berries - full of heart healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber
Cherries- along with berries, cherries offer a high dose of anthocyanins that lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. They are also high in fiber and a fabulous choice for lowering cholesterol.
Flaxseeds - omega-3 fatty acids and fiber all protect heart health
Spinach - full of Vitamin C and beta-carotene that prevent oxidized cholesterol from building up in arteries. Folate lowers homocysteine levels. Potassium and magnesium are blood pressure reducers.
Avocado - full of good fats, monounsaturated fat, which lowers cholesterol, offers anti-inflammatory benefits
Pomegranates - contains numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries
So as you can see, we have quite a list of some powerful foods that can really help provide us healing. By combining them all into a smoothie bowl, we have a delicious breakfast that gets our day started. That is so important because when we start our day off eating healthy, clean foods, we are more likely to continue that trend throughout the day. So if you have felt the strenuous effects of this election, check out this recipe. Your body will respond with gratitude.
1/2 cup coconut milk
!/4 of an avocado
1/2 cup spinach
2 Tbs walnuts
1 Tbs flaxseed
1 cup frozen berries (blueberry or raspberry)
1/2 cup frozen cherries
1/2 frozen banana
2 Tbs pomegranate seeds
*I puréed some blueberries to swirl on top of the smoothie bowl
1. Combine all ingredients in your high speed blender and blend until thick and smooth. Add ice to thicken or coconut milk to reduce thickness.
2. Pour into a large bowl and garnish with desired toppings. Enjoy your big bowl of heart healthy nutrition!