Staying positive and present in your own reality
Recently I have felt escalating anxiety from an overload of negative news in the media. It felt like there wasn’t even enough time to process what I was hearing before another disturbing event took centerstage. I wondered about my mixed emotions and confusion related to the anxiety. I began to feel unsafe or uneasy in everyday situations, with endless questions and hope dwindling.
While media anxiety and stress looks different for everyone, issues like the state of the economy, another mass shooting, the reversal of Roe vs. Wade, climate change and the current “heat wave” are on my current list of stressors. Certain topics can certainly make us feel pessimistic in our everyday lives, but how can we remain positive and present in our own realities while making a positive impact in the bigger picture?
Control your media intake and develop boundaries
Sometimes it feels like living in denial and unplugging from all realities is the best option when it comes to negative news in the media. However, more sensibly we need to accept and acknowledge that awful things will continue to happen. While certain things are out of our control- the amount of time we allow ourselves to be consumed by social media and news outlets is up to us. We are only human, and our brains and emotions can only handle so much stimulation.
It’s OK to remain connected, but developing a sense of resiliency to bad news or connection to the bigger picture may eliminate some of the daily feelings of stress and anxiety. Turn off your phone and opt for an activity that releases your stress and decreases tension in your life.
Educate yourself and be open to challenging conversations
Often having difficult conversations or acknowledging varying viewpoints can be challenging. With the start of the school year approaching perhaps you are overwhelmed with the safety of your children. Maybe a wildfire too close to home and record-breaking temperatures have you questioning the reality of climate change. While some topics with family, friends, and coworkers can feel burdensome- having productive conversations, listening to each other, and educating yourself can be advantageous. Talk to your children about their concerns and fears, book an appointment with a financial advisor to revisit your long-term goals and ease your financial stresses, watch an environmental documentary with your family about climate change, or try therapy and group-support options.
Contribute with your time, talent, or funds
Voting and participating in local elections are ways to use your voice and feel productive in your everyday life. There are also countless local, statewide, and national organizations that are working hard to make improvements in challenging issues. We all have different talents and passions, and devoting your time to volunteer for a local non–profit or offering your expertise for a fundraiser can go a long way. Sign up for the local food scrap composting program, and be mindful of water conservation to help with your carbon footprint. Perhaps monetary contributions to an out-of-state organization will ease some of your tensions regarding the change in abortion laws in other areas of the country. Pick something that is essential in your own beliefs and life experiences. Some of my favorites include High Country Conservation Center, Family and Intercultural Resource Center, Protect our Winters, Building Hope, Summit Advocates for Victims of Assault, and Planned Parenthood.
I recently moved to a new town. While change and readjusting can be difficult, I have developed a deeper appreciation and love for my early morning walks on the quiet green space behind my house. “Small things” like the companionship of my aging dog, carrying a fresh cup of coffee, and listening to an audiobook are actually “big factors” in my morning routine to be more calm in the storm of today’s headlines.
Therapy also helps- and I am committed to regular sessions to talk through my anxieties. If you feel like you are ready to talk to someone and not sure where to start, check out Building Hope’s Mental Health Navigation and Scholarship program here: https://buildinghopesummit.org/mental-health-therapists/
Try to focus on the positives like time with family and friends, chasing wildflowers, quiet nights at home, and being kind to others- even if they don’t agree with your opinion. I am working to remind myself that bad news will always be present but so can modest efforts I take to improve my slice of the world.