Monday, July 18, 2016

Taking Care of Yourself While Listening to the News

There is so much sadness in the world today.

Hearing and reading about death, violence and tragedy on a daily basis wears on us.  With our seemingly unlimited and relentless stream of media that bombards us through radio, television, smart phones, newspapers, magazines, podcasts and other sources, I know that I feel overwhelmed.

Grief and loss are real.  When we hear about tragic events and feel empathy, shock and sadness for the people involved, it effects us deeply and drains energy.  If we become obsessed with the news, watching it or reading about it over and over, we can also easily become traumatized secondarily from repeated exposure to these events.  Some people I have talked to have reported nightmares, constant thinking and ruminating about the events and emotional reactions like crying.  This is all very common as it relates to trauma.

We have to keep functioning.  We have to go to work and make dinner for our family and deal with our lives.... even while our hearts are hurting.  But, at the same time, we need to stay informed and educated about world events.

We have to take care of ourselves while we are processing it all.  
  • Make taking care of yourself a priority.  Breathe deeply.  Exercise.  Trim your nails and take long baths.  When we get discouraged and feel hopeless, self care is often one of the first things to do.  And, when we are stressed and worried, taking care of ourselves is the most important thing.  Don't get confused.
  • Spend time with those you love.  As we have learned over and over again, and most recently, these past few weeks, life is fleeting.  It's all a very delicate balance.  Anything can happen at any moment to change your life forever.  Be present.  Say things you want to say to people you love.  Hug intensely and kiss often.  Take care of each other.  Play.  Smile.  Interact.   Be interested.  Listen.
  • Focus on gratitude and appreciation.  Being grateful and appreciating all that you have can be easily dismissed or overlooked when you are feeling depressed or stressed.  Remember to be grateful in every moment... regardless of your situation and surroundings.  Where you are right now might be as good as it gets.  Focus on being present and recognizing your many blessings in this, and every, moment.
  • Limit the amount of time you watch and read the news.  It's important to be informed.  It's important to understand history in the making.  It's critical to understand safety issues.  It's easy to become obsessed.  Limit yourself to just checking in three times a day... or limit yourself to 15 minutes of news review at the end of the day... or just use your social media to glean the highlights from the day's news.  Limit access to the news for the kids.  
  • Surround yourself with good news.  It's easy to subscribe to or "like" positive pages and beautiful images on your Facebook and Instagram feeds.  As you scroll through social media you'll see posts from family and friends, some news and some inspiring images and positive messages.  Balance is important.  
  • Send love and kindness everywhere.  Radiate sunshine and acceptance to everyone.  People are awesome.  Be kind.  Smile at people.  Help each other.  Talk to someone.  Reach outside of your comfort zone and look at people in the eyes and connect.  

Take care of yourselves and each other.  Continue on in peace, love and kindness.

Stacey Brown is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor practicing in Fort Myers, Florida.  Sign up for her newsletter and follow on FacebookInstagram and Twitter so you can stay in touch.

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