Are you feeling overwhelmed by current events? As if the pandemic wasn’t enough stress, we’ve got 40 million people unemployed, a high percentage of those still employed have had their wages cut, and now we are inundated with news about protests and riots. As one of my clients was telling me today, it’s everywhere you look. You can’t be on social media without seeing reminders or having videos autoplaying. And some of those videos of the riots and the police brutality are graphic and disturbing.
So what do you do? In large part, my answer is the same as it was previously: make sure you do self-care. Try to get enough sleep. Exercise is good for almost anything, especially in relieving anxiety, stress, and improving mood if you are down or depressed. Eating a varied diet is important, too. Time with loved ones and friends is very important, even if you are keeping physical distance while interacting. Practicing various relaxation techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization are all important tools in your efforts to take care of yourself and fight the effects of overwhelming current events.
Perhaps the suggestion that will make the biggest and most immediate impact on your mental well-being, however, is this: limit your social media time. Either set a certain amount of time each day that you will allow yourself to be on social media sites or monitor your mood. If you notice you are starting to feel sad, angry, depressed, anxious, or stressed, you know you need to take a social media break for your mental health. My client today mentioned that YouTube would play suggestions that inevitably involve videos of the riots and protests and this was upsetting. One way around this is to create playlists so you know that your viewing won’t include videos you aren’t interested in seeing. I may be weird in this, but I keep a list of websites and things I can look at when I’m feeling stressed out. My persona favorite go-to is looking at videos of cats whose owners sneak cucumbers next to them. The cats think the cucumbers are snakes and their reactions do not disappoint. Yes, I do feel a bit guilty about the cats being scared like this, but it never fails to make me laugh. Laughter, by the way, can result in your natural endorphins being released. These natural opioids will cause a sense of well-being and reduced stress. So maybe cucumbers scaring cats isn’t your thing, but finding a show from your favorite stand up comic or whatever reliably amuses you is worth looking for.
Additionally, when you have hit your limit on news of current events, it’s okay to tell other people this if they want to talk about it. You can say something like, “I’m very stressed out by the current news and I’m trying to take a break from it. Can we talk about it another time?”
You may also find this blog post worth reading. It lists the most effective stress relief actions and activities according the American Psychological Association.
If you are one of those 40 million people whose job vanished as a result of the pandemic, I’m offering sessions for $30. Call or text me at 816-226-4678 for more information.