As the political climate of our country heats up, so do our feelings of anger, fear, hopelessness, and powerlessness. These days, I seem to be discussing the state of our world in every single therapy session I have. All of you are collectively feeling the pain, no matter what your political inclination. Many of you are wondering how to cope.
These are uncertain times. While history has given us lessons on how situations like this happen, most of us don’t know what its like to live with such uncertainty in our world. We don’t have a road map. As Americans, we have had the privilege to live with a certain sense of safety and expectation (despite the violence our country has seen in the last two decades). This is different. We are in a new era.
It is normal to be feeling anxious, angry, scared, uneasy, shocked, and the number of other emotions you may be experiencing right now. For those of you who have a history of trauma, you may be feeling particularly fragile. You may be experiencing hyper vigilance (a fear that something bad is about to happen, and looking for it to happen), flashbacks or nightmares of trauma, or maybe even just emotionally numb.
What you can do to cope:
If you have a history of trauma, it is important to increase your self care and support. It may be a good time to get back into therapy if you’re feeling particularly triggered.
For those of you who don’t have significant trauma in your background, my typical answer would usually be to turn off the tv and your social media outlets and decompress. But, something feels different this time. Unprecedented times call for a different response. The response is balance, not disconnection.
If you feel powerless and angry at the events that are taking place, then find a positive outlet for your anger. Attend a protest. Call your representatives. Remember that even the smallest stone can lead to big ripples in the pond. Talk to people who share your views. Empowering yourself with directed action can help mitigate the feelings of hopelessness and fear.
Turn off the tv and social media outlets for some time every day. Limit the time you spend scrolling through Facebook, or watching the news. I know that things are moving fast and there seems to be a fear that you’ll miss something, but the truth is, taking a few hours to give your brain a rest isn’t going to prevent you from hearing about current events. Your brain and heart need a break from the heaviness in the media. Do NOT watch the news or scroll through your phone or computer before bed. I recommend no media at least an hour or two before bed so that your brain is less stimulated and you can rest.
Try waking up and doing some gentle yoga or meditation to start your day instead of turning on the news first thing. Imagine yourself being surrounded by love, light, and peace.
Help someone else.
When we stop focusing on our own realities, we quickly find new, and usually better perspectives. It can make our problems seem smaller.
Change your focus.
When your brain is focused on politics, fear, or anger, that is what it will look for in the world. You will see it everywhere you go. If you instead focus on the love and positive things that are occurring as well, you will start to feel encouraged and more at ease with the situation. Remember, where the focus goes, the energy flows.
These are difficult times, but the truth is that the human spirit is resilient. There is as much love in the world as you choose to see. Look for it and you will find it.
If you’re really struggling with how to handle this, come on in for a session.