My mom and I carpool to the train station every morning. I often request that we listen to music or her favorite goofy morning talk show, opposed to the morning news because more often than not, there is nothing positive to be said. While I want to be informed about what is happening in the world, there comes a certain point when the news becomes overbearing and even scary.
What often scares me about some current events is that there is nothing I can do that will fix the situation. I can listen to the news reports, read the tweets, watch the interviews and press briefings that have taken over my social media feed, but what can I do in those moments?
I may not be able to cure our world of the injustices and fix the actions of others, but I can take care of myself. When we take care of ourselves, we take away the power that toxic events have over us. We show hate that it has no home in our life.
When the news and events of our culture become too much, step away. The care you show yourself takes top priority. Here are some ways to practice self-care during these times.
1. Talk it out with others.
Whether you need to voice your concern, frustration, or anger, or you need to ask, “What does this mean?,” talk to someone. Find a community of support with people who understand where you are coming from. Find a group that will listen to and engage in a conversation with you.
2. Create something.
It’s very easy to act without thinking when something happens that upsets us. Our emotions take over and we find ourselves saying or doing something we might later regret. Instead, take a deep breath and channel that energy into something creative and productive. Cook a meal, bake a family recipe, practice the ukulele, create a dance or a work of art, write a journal entry or a blog post. Confront your emotions, regardless of how scary that may be, and turn them into something so you can say, “This horrible thing happened, but look at what I made of it.”
3. Practice mindfulness.
When the noise of the news becomes overwhelming, I check in with myself to see what I need. Often, I need to reconnect with myself to recognize how I am feeling and how I am going to proceed. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, but meditation, taking a bubble bath, going for a walk or a hike, and being outdoors are just a few ways to reconnect with yourself and your environment.
4. Detox from social media.
Social media has become one of the best and most efficient ways to receive news updates. While it allows news to be available to us with the touch of an app, it also allows others to express their feelings and thoughts, which has its pros and cons. It can be overwhelming and toxic at times, so shut it down. You are not obligated to be tied to the media 24/7. You can control your environment and what you see on your screen.
5. Be an ally.
Tough times affect us differently, and some communities may be hurting more than others. It’s important to take care of yourself, but let others know that you are there for them. You can lend an ear to them, read up on how the current situation affects them, or take action with them. There is strength in numbers, and in these tough times, we need each other more than ever. To learn more about how to be an ally, check out these resources:
Above all else, don’t apologize for taking care of yourself in these hard times. So often, we focus on what we need to do for others before what we need to do for ourselves. You are worthy of self-love and self-care. Take care of yourself so that you have the energy to support the other people in your life.
These events might be tough to handle, but you are tougher.
Grace Bradley is a senior at Connecticut College majoring in dance and sociology. Working with the Active Minds chapter at Conn College and NEDA, she is an advocate of mental health and eating disorder awareness after personally dealing with both. Grace is dedicated to raising awareness about both of these issues, specifically within the dance community.