Many of us are feeling overwhelmed by how many people are facing difficulty on the planet right now. The places in the world experiencing conflict or natural disaster are in many of our thoughts. With the catastrophic flooding in parts of Australia and severe drought in Mexico where we have our roots, these days can feel quite heavy. While many of us scramble to be useful in these times, looking for ways to give or help, we also must remember the simple principles of self-care.
Information overload isn’t new to these times, but with the abundance of news sources like traditional media and social media, we can be hooked into a 24hr cycle of images, much of which is very distressing. Those of us who aren’t immediately impacted by the devastating recent events are largely going about our days as normally as possible, with an added level of existential angst and worry about what our fellow humans are experiencing, coupled with concern for the earth, and the ecosystems and animals who are caught up in various calamities right now.
So what can we do?
- Give what you can – Every dollar really does help, as does every action you can take to assist someone in need. If you are close-by or at a distance, there is something you can do. If you can’t contribute to the bigger picture, you can help in your own world. Bake something for a neighbour, volunteer for a cause close to home, think of creative ways you can use the skill you have to make a difference.
- Look after yourself – remember the principles of hydration, nutrition and rest. At these times we forget to drink water, can lose sleep due to worrying, and this can make it even harder to face the events that unfold each new day.
- Connect – checking in with loved ones is a good way to share the burden of stress, to put in a line with a friend and let out some tension. Laughing through tears can do wonders!
- Be in your body – light exercise, stretching, self-massage of tired feet etc. when we tune into our bodies, we can give our minds some relief. Even a few minutes of meditation can help to alleviate the effects of stress. Taking mindful deep breaths when we can really does have profound physiological benefits that strengthen our resilience.
- It’s okay to disconnect – be aware of what and how much you are watching. There is something to be said for bearing witness, for empathising with those in need – but it is okay to take some time out to give your nervous system a break. Having scheduled hours of social media or the news, can be beneficial in providing some space for us to recalibrate and come back stronger. Scrolling endlessly for hours, especially before bed can be a coping mechanism, but it does not really help us or anyone else.
Choose 1 better thought – this is a practice offered by many mental health practitioners for times of stress or anxiety. It refers to the practice of stopping our spiralling thoughts and choosing 1 better thought. It would be unrealistic to expect entirely positive thoughts right now, but focusing on a thought that is lighter, can help. Some examples are:
- We have been through tough times before and recovered.
- If I breathe slower, I feel better.
- Every day I can do a small thing that will alleviate how I am feeling.
- My body likes to move, I can do 5minutes of stretching that will give me a sense of greater ease.
- There is a lot to be grateful for right now.
These are uncertain times, but we are strong and resilient and the strength of humanity is greater than we know. Being a conscious, aware person isn't always easy - but it's through our capacity for empathy and sensitivity that we can find solutions that benefit all. Together we will find new ways to care, give, look after our planet and bloom collectively again.
Take care and stay safe.