I can’t sleep. Images from the news flood my brain. My heart weeps for the families of those affected. Pick the story. It doesn’t matter. One is just as awful as the next.
Days go by with my stomach in knots, worrying about what might happen to my family. Can you relate? How do you regain your inner peace?
Every day lately, there are so many disturbing images in the news, making it hard to maintain your sanity. The stories rip your insides apart, and the video clips cut through your soul like swords of ice. From school shootings to the war in the Middle East, the intensity of the nightly news knocks down even the strongest among us.
Are you struggling to find your peace after the horrors broadcast every night on the news? Do you feel like all the negative has stolen the best of you?
Here are five ways to regain your peace when the news stresses you out.
Get Outside and Connect With Nature
Spend time in nature and allow yourself to breathe fresh air. Listen to the birds singing and feel the sun on your face. Let the beauty of nature wash away some of the ugliness you’ve seen. Absorb some vitamin D from the sun and increase your oxygen intake.
My yard is small and unimpressive, but there’s a little spot behind the house covered by trees. I planted some Blue Henon bamboo and set up a birdbath and bird feeders. A few feet away is a level spot where I put my chair.
From my perch, I watch the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks prance around the yard. A few days ago, a tan and brown hawk landed about twenty feet from me. He nodded in my direction, no doubt picking up on the stress I was trying to expel, before he continued on his way.
When it’s all too much, I spend time in my spot watching the leaves dance on the trees while the birds call to each other. The scene is unique every time I sit there, and the quiet calls of nature soothe my soul. Find your spot and let it refresh you. Give yourself at least 10–30 minutes to take in all of nature’s goodness. Let mother earth recharge your batteries.
Unplug From the Digital World
Turn off the news, and give yourself a break from all the negativity. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.
Do something you enjoy and forget about the outside world for a while. It’s okay not to know every little thing happening in the world.
If possible, make your activity one that requires movement. Putting your body in motion helps drive painful thoughts from your mind. Creativity also helps. Bake some cookies. Paint a picture. Dance to your favorite song. Fully immerse your mind in another project so the worst thoughts get pushed out. You may find some comfort from my favorite self-care tools.
Be Mindful of What’s Happening Right Here, Right Now
When you can’t unplug, be mindful of what you’re consuming. Don’t allow yourself to get lost in the story. Try to detach yourself from the emotions playing out on the screen. Remember, it’s just news. It’s not personal.
It’s sad to see what’s happening, but unless you are Superman, you can not save every person. Accept the sadness, but then move on. Before television and the internet, you never would have heard that awful story from the other side of the world. It’s okay to distance yourself from it now.
Practicing mindfulness also helps. Feel the air entering your lungs, identify the scents in the air, and describe the textures you feel around you. By centering back on the place where you are right now, you can leave behind the news that could be half a world away. You are safe at this moment. Let your body accept the security of now.
Write It Out To Get to the Heart of the Matter
Get your thoughts and feelings down on paper. Writing can be therapeutic and can help you make sense of what you’re feeling. Many find daily journal writing to be helpful. Journals give you a safe place to explore your feelings and get the noise out of your head.
For nearly four decades, I turned to my journal whenever I needed to work through internal turmoil. By spilling the words on the page, I can see clearer why a news story bothered me so much and process the resulting anxiety. It’s an essential tool for my stability. My trusty friend has been there through every horrible event, from the anxiety of my teen years to the insanity of today.
When you put the words on the page, it helps you look at them objectively. Let them sit for a day or two and then go back to what you wrote. Are your words reasonable? Can you take steps to protect your family? Fresh eyes may help you see things from a better perspective. Often, we get lost in the news because we put ourselves there in the story. It’s okay and healthy to step away from it all.
Tell Someone What’s in Your Head and Heart
Talk to a friend or family member about what’s going on. Sometimes, it helps to have someone to talk to who will understand. Most people want to open up about how the news is affecting them, but may be afraid to open up. Start the conversation and see where it goes. You’ll quickly find that you’re not the only one struggling with current events.
When the stress from the news is so intense it takes over all your thoughts, it may be time to talk to a professional. Since the pandemic started, the number of people experiencing depression or anxiety has never been higher. There’s no shame in getting help to get you through these challenging days.
With a little effort, these five tips will help you find your peace again. Remember, everyone reacts differently to the news. What works for one person might not work for another. Try each suggestion and see what works for you. After each try, reflect on how you feel. When you find one to be most helpful, practice it frequently.
The news is terrible, but it doesn’t have to rob you of your tranquility. Choose to take your thoughts back. You may not have the power to change the world, but you can control how you respond to what’s happening in it. Take back your thoughts. Reclaim your peace.
Until next time, keep fighting.
This story appeared on Medium July 11, 2022.