Feeling battered by world events? Falling asleep at night hoping you’ll wake up to find everything since 2000 was a horrible dream? Here are 7 simple ways you can make things better.
Seriously. Start now: take a slow breath in through your nose and try to fill your lungs all the way from the bottom to the top, then let it out again, just as slowly, until they’re empty. Repeat.
You feel better already, right?
Breathing like this stimulates your vagus nerve, which triggers your natural relaxation response. When you feel calm, everything seems more manageable.
2. Switch off the news
Knowing specifically how the world is shit today will not make the world any less shit. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that mainstream media make the world more shit by whipping up fear and division. Murdoch’s entire global network is dedicated to this cause.
Watching the news triggers our fear centres in our brain, and we go on alert like we’re under threat. This is mentally stressful and it takes a physical toll on the body and the brain. The hordes will not be battering down your door tomorrow, so stop feeding the fear.
Similarly, ditch anything you read that makes you feel like crap or tells you you are inadequate. Women’s and fashion magazines, for example.
3. Show love to someone
Ring that friend you haven’t seen for months. Visit that elderly relative you know loves company. Send a card to someone. Let someone know someone out there is thinking about them.
Loving kindness can be as simple (and as difficult) as recognising that we’re all under strain, and dealing with our own version of shit. Instead of bitching about perceived slights or minor trangressions, let them go. When someone close to you has a meltdown, instead of responding in kind, listen to them. We all need to feel we matter.
4. Shop differently
We have almost zero power to affect the actions of large corporations. Hell, the entire dairy industry doesn’t have the power to win a fight with the big supermarkets. Most of the time, boycotting one giant vulture brand just means spending money with another giant vulture brand.
The way you can make a difference with your money is to spend locally and/or from small businesses whenever you can.
I’ve boycotted Nike since the early 90s, but the loss of one customer is less than nothing to a global corporation reporting billions in profit. For a local business my custom can make a real difference. Shopping at the local butcher, buying gifts at the local craft market, getting fruit and vege from a farmer’s roadside stall, shopping for gifts on Etsy…all these things help people in your area pay their bills, buy presents for their kids and pay their taxes. Over time, you’ll also get to know the people in your community, and people who feel connected to their community feel safer.
5. Disconnect from technology, and connect with nature
There’s no doubting the many benefits of technology but it has its down sides. Information overload. The impact of staring at screens on your eyes and your brain activity. The affect on your posture.
For at least a little while every day, put all of them away, and while you’re having a break from technology, take the opportunity to reconnect with nature. Go for a walk if you can. Take your shoes off on a lawn and scrinch the grass between your toes. Play with an animal, or a small child. Hold a baby and marvel at its tiny fingernails and its sweet warm smell.
Connecting with nature is grounding somehow. Even if you’re unable to literally get outdoors in nature, find ways to stimulate your senses. Open the windows and let the breeze in. Immerse yourself in a bath. Massage lotion into your skin. Listen – actually pay attention to – music. It gives your brain a rest from processing data, and stimulates other areas of the brain.
6. Support a cause
I find the sense of impotence one of the hardest things to bear about the current state of the world. Finding a cause – or a person – to provide practical support to can help diminish that feeling: you know you’re contributing to helping ‘good’ win. If you support local causes, you get the added benefit of seeing tangible results: we might never see world peace, but we might get a sheltered playground for the local kids.
7. Be kind to yourself
You’re not where you thought you’d be in life, are you? You’re tired, and too busy. Everything’s expensive and although you have too much crap, there’s always more stuff to buy. And work sucks, or not having work sucks, and what happened to that dream? Then there’s the constant backaches, or belly aches or headaches. And you weigh too much and should exercise more and see something about that thing. Or you can’t hold anything down and you’re secretly smoking at work. Nothing worked out like you thought it would. You think you’re a failure.
We all feel it from time to time. We’re feeling it more often. These are difficult times, it’s normal to feel beaten down, and it doesn’t help that the government constantly blames us for the lack of jobs and opportunity. But it’s not you, and when it all gets too much, that’s okay. Do what you need to to care for yourself. Take a day off. See a counsellor. Go for a swim in the ocean. Call a friend. Whatever works for you (see No. 1).
What are your survival tips? Comment below