Coping with life's most challenging times
Between natural disasters, war and pandemics, the world can sometimes seem like a cruel and frightening place. The next time those horrific headlines have you feeling overwhelmed, consider these eight coping strategies from wellness counsellor Deepak Kashyap.
Identify ways you can help
Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and social media, we’re constantly inundated with horrific headlines, painting vivid pictures of death, suffering and destruction. But aside from offering “thoughts and prayers” and feeling helpless, what can we do?
As the 19th-century orator Robert G. Ingersoll said, “The hands that help are better far than lips that pray.” Getting upset by reading the news will not change the world around us; change requires action. Use your strong emotional response to those headlines as motivation to explore means by which you can make a difference to those affected by catastrophe. Can you make a donation in the form of time, money or resources? What kind of aid is needed – not just in the immediate response to the crisis, but in the long-term as well?
Keep in mind, helping can only be healthy once you realise you can’t rescue everyone who’s suffering. Even the most effective activists achieving the greatest change only do so by focusing on a specific issue. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling motivated to help one group of victims over another.
Think you’ve got no time to make a difference? Think again. Here are 15 simple acts of kindness you can do in two minutes or less.
Identify ways you can help yourself
According to Buddha, “If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it is incomplete.” Developing and practicing compassionate emotional first-aid is an important part of self-care. When you have heard, watched or read distressing news, it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole, follow the related links, read the incendiary comments and allow that distress to snowball until you feel physically sick. Alternatively, you could acknowledge this pattern, take a breath and invest your attention elsewhere. Try to lose yourself in a good book, or call up that friend who always makes you feel warm and comfortable. Develop a habit of regular meditation, physical activity and journalling – documenting your feelings by putting pen to paper. It’s a valuable practice that allows us to see the structure of our thoughts and ultimately, edit our thinking – an integral part of shifting our perspectives.