OCT 11, 2017:
At the close of 2016, the general consensus from the media was that we had just experienced the worst year ever (or at least, this century). There seemed to be a lot of evidence, all of which affected our collective consciousness to varying degrees – from divisive election results to war and terrorism, Zika, Haiti, even losing inspirational figures such as David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. As we welcomed 2017 or held our breath for what may come next, we all hoped for a year with some good news.
After the last few months of natural disasters, the talk of a nuclear threat, and the recent shootings in Vegas, you wouldn’t be alone in feeling like we’re in a never-ending cycle of bad news. You may feel helpless, even though all you want to do is help. You may feel anxious – ‘many people are finding it harder to feel calm and present in their day-to-day lives,’ Health.com reported last year. This is normal: Our ‘highly connected culture can exacerbate feelings of anxiety’. It’s human to experience empathy, to have reactions about the issues you care about. But there are things we can all do to keep going in the face of adversity and uncertainty because sometimes we also need to help ourselves stay healthy.
Questions don’t always need to be answered
When fear first strikes, Health.com recommends asking yourself once (and only once: ‘“What can I do to solve this problem?’ Then implement your plan as best you can. But if you can’t think of a plan or solution that is realistic, rational, and logical, move on.’ Try to take a breath and resist trying to answer questions like ‘What can I do?’ when they take over your mind. Let them sit there. Let them lose their power. Soon enough, your mind will stop asking them. That is your power, and you didn’t even have to do anything!
Distract yourself from trying too hard to be calm
Telling yourself to calm down should be the easiest thing to listen to, but somehow the act in itself magnifies the fact you don’t feel calm. Instead, ‘you can preoccupy your brain with relaxing activities, like taking a warm bath, listening to music, or meditating.’ Not one for going low-key? Engage your mind and body with an activity or exercise catch up with friends, or even do some chores. Keeping yourself busy, even with something as banal as answering emails, means you’re already on your way to keeping going.
Find acceptance in uncertainty – it’s a universal truth
‘There is no such thing as absolute safety. Believing that there is such a thing as guaranteed security actually worsens anxiety.’ When you find yourself saying things like, ‘If I just do this, then everything will be fine’, stop for a minute. Yes, if you do that thing, whatever it might be, you might find some relief – but that relief is momentary, it ‘acts as a positive reward for having worrisome thoughts, and in turn reinforces them’. Take precautions, do things to help you feel better, by all means, but be kind to yourself also. Simply tell yourself some things are out of your control, and that’s ok, you’ll keep going anyway. And you will.
How do you push forward when faced with continued bad news? Share your tips in the comments!
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