As I write this the world is mourning yet more terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut. Well, mostly they are mourning for Paris; Beirut seems less worthy, somehow, of Western media's attention and, in turn, our sympathy. I can't turn on the television or check Facebook or twitter without more sadness and reports of violence and death.
It all makes me sad. Sad for those killed in the Paris attacks and even more sad for the people who are lost to violence and terrorism all over the world who don't seem to receive our acknowledgement or attention. As a particularly empathetic and sensitive person who tends to soak up emotions and energy around me like a sponge, this is bad news for my mental health.
I know that I am not alone in this feeling. It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that the world is a scary, dangerous place. Certainly, there is a lot that is not good. But there is also so much good all around us. So how do we balance the negative energy and news that we are bombarded with on a daily basis and look after our mental well being? I am glad you asked - I have a few suggestions.
Allow Yourself to Feel Emotions: We are human beings with human emotions. It's OK to feel sad or angry about something. Allow yourself to feel - in my opinion it's better than a feeling of numbness at hearing the 100th report of a school shooting. But is it healthy to hold onto those emotions for too long? Perhaps not. It's also OK to let go of those feelings and move forward.
Challenge Yourself: Take some time to process a negative event and the information that you receive about that event, especially from media. Is the information that you are receiving accurate or perhaps slanted toward a particular view? If the information is overwhelming or doesn't serve you in a healthy way then maybe consider turning off the TV and not reading your news feed on social media for awhile.
Count Your Blessings: Simple and a cliche but still a great tip. When things are challenging for me whether in terms of my mental health or just a stressful week at work I take a moment to remind myself of all that I have: I live in a beautiful city, I have a roof over my head and food in my belly, and amazing friends and family.
Practice Self Care: Do you get enough sleep? Do you carve out time for yourself to just sit quietly and enjoy a cup of tea? When was the last time you went for a walk in nature? How about giving and receiving a giant, squishy hug with someone you love? Do you follow the 80/20 rule with your diet? All of these things are vital and, I am afraid to say, we don't pay nearly enough attention to them.
Take Control: If you feel passionate about an injustice that you see in the world, consider taking action. Join a not for profit organization that supports refugees or fights poverty and homelessness. Channel your energy and emotions towards change and positive impact.
Yes, as I write this there is darkness in this world. but there is also sunshine and love and goodness. I choose to align my thoughts with that energy. I am going to give the last word the great Mother Theresa: "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."
P.S. here are some ideas of how to process tragedy courtesy of MindBodyGreen