In our fast-paced, interconnected world, staying informed about global events has become a constant part of our lives. As I write this, we’ve experienced another mass shooting in the US just this week, and there are multiple wars causing pain and anguish not just for those in Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine, but all over the globe. These global events include controversy and varying opinions about what should happen and why… which cause distress and pain through all communities and through many individual relationships.
So, we find ourselves tuning in to the news 24/7 – receiving push notifications and updates from multiple news apps, viewing articles and updates on social media, and, yep – doomscrolling. While it’s important for us to be aware of world events and bear witness, it can also lead to anxiety, helplessness, and guilt, making us feel overwhelmed and helpless. I often hear clients express anguish over not being able to do anything, feeling like the world is out of control, and feeling guilty about their privilege while others suffer. In this blog post, we’ll explore compassionate strategies to help yourself when anxiety and guilt about world events threaten your sense of well-being.
1. Be Gentle with Your News Consumption
It’s easy to become consumed by the never-ending news cycle, which can heighten your anxiety and sense of helplessness. While staying informed is crucial, remember to be gentle with yourself. Set boundaries by designating specific times to check the news and avoid doing so before bedtime. Choose reliable sources that provide thoughtful insights instead of sensationalism. You can also explore other ways of bearing witness rather than just watching the news – journaling, learning more about the history and context of the events, and talking to others even if opinions may differ.
2. Embrace Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can provide comfort during anxious moments. These practices help you stay in the present, allowing you to focus on what you can control in your life, rather than getting lost in the vastness of global issues. Even dedicating just a few minutes each day to mindfulness can make a significant difference.
3. Seek Supportive Communities
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in your feelings of anxiety and guilt about the world. Connect with like-minded individuals or supportive groups in your local community or online. Engaging in conversations with people who share your concerns can provide emotional support, camaraderie, and a sense of purpose in working towards positive change. This could even look something like attending a protest or rally.
4. Take Gentle Action
Transform feelings of helplessness into motivation by taking gentle action, no matter how small. Start by researching and supporting organizations that align with your values. Volunteering, donating, or advocating for positive change can help you regain a sense of control over the situation. You can call your local, state, and federal representatives, depending on the situation.
5. Prioritize Self-Care
In moments of anxiety, self-care is your anchor. Prioritize activities that nurture your mental and emotional well-being, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a consistent sleep schedule. Don’t forget to engage in activities that bring you joy, whether reading, painting, or spending time with loved ones.
6. Educate Yourself with Compassion
Empower yourself with knowledge about the issues that weigh on your heart. Learning about the root causes, potential solutions, and the history of global events can provide context and clarity. Remember, you’re not expected to know everything; approach your learning journey with compassion for yourself.
7. Set Realistic Expectations
It’s essential to acknowledge that you’re just one person, and you can’t solve all the world’s problems alone. Set realistic expectations for what you can achieve and focus on the positive impact you can make in your community and within your sphere of influence.
8. Seek Compassionate Professional Help
If your anxiety and feelings of guilt become overwhelming and persist, consider seeking compassionate help from a mental health professional. Therapists and counselors can provide guidance and support tailored to your unique needs, helping you navigate your emotions and develop effective coping strategies. One of my foundational practices in therapy is self-compassion – feel free to reach out.
In a world filled with uncertainties and distressing events, it’s natural to experience anxiety, helplessness, and guilt. You are not alone in your feelings, and there are compassionate ways to cope and find hope amidst the chaos. By setting gentle boundaries, practicing mindfulness, connecting with supportive communities, taking gentle action, prioritizing self-care, educating yourself with compassion, setting realistic expectations, and seeking professional help when needed, you can regain a sense of control and purpose. Remember that you deserve understanding and support, and there are resources and people available to help you on your journey to better mental well-being.