We live in a culture that is always “on.” We spend our days tethered to our phones, never truly leaving work behind even when we leave the office. We endlessly scroll through social media, watching our friends have seemingly round-the-clock fun and adventures, and we suffer from that modern affliction known as FOMO, or “fear of missing out.”
We over-pack our calendars and schedule every minute of our children’s lives, shuttling constantly from one activity to the next. And even when we take some time to relax and watch television, we keep just one eye on whatever is on Netflix while the other is back on our phones as we constantly text and play games.
We are already caught up in a frenzy of daily activity, addicted to devices, and consuming too much media, and so… when there are pending threats like natural disasters, tragedies, injustices or economic crises, it is all exacerbated.
It is good to get news and to be kept up to date, particularly in times of crisis, but there is a limit. Our “always on” culture has led to a society that is riddled with stress and stress-related illness.
There is no solution to take away stress and pain entirely. We live in a world where the only real certainty is that terrible things sometimes happen. But there are ways to modify your behavior both for your own health and in order to better serve those around you. Here are a few of them:
6 Tips for How to Stay Centered Amid the Uncertainty
1. Take a break from the news
Turn off the television and put your phone away!
Dwelling on these situations will not alter their course. This type of behavior will only lead to more angst, upset and fear.
The emotional response to crisis situations is complex; acknowledge your emotions and accept them, rather than trying to control them.
2. Take care of your own needs first
To take care of others, we must take care of ourselves.
In times of stress, make sure you are getting adequate sleep and eating healthy foods. Take plenty of breaks throughout the day and maybe a few sort walks. Exercise, meditate, or engage in deep breathing.
3. Get support from others
There is power in community. Sharing can help to normalize feelings and reactions to an event. Listen carefully to others and share your own feelings and experiences. Recognize that we are all vulnerable. You won’t feel so isolated or alone, and you are less likely to dwell on your problems.
4. Write in a journal
You may hear this often, but it can be quite liberating, as the journal is for your reference and your reference alone. It does not need to conform to any literary standards, and it can be a helpful way to work through some of your feelings.
5. Focus on what you can control
We often obsess about things that we can’t control, and we overlook things that we can control and that tend to make life easier. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be in the present moment, rather than focusing on past regrets or future worries. Enjoy the now.
6. Have an attitude of gratitude and practice kindness
Consider writing letters of thanks to first responders. Donate food and supplies to victims. It’s human nature to come together and be kind and more appreciative of each other during times of uncertainty and disasters. This behavior supports our survival.
For example, the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was a time of great solidarity for America. Wouldn’t it be great if we could come together like this even in the absence of a disaster?
Life is hard; there’s no two ways about it. But when we explore the opportunities and possibilities that come out of difficult circumstances, they become easier to accept.
These challenging situations also often become a fundamental part of our personal growth. But in the midst of things, remember; be gentle with yourself. And maybe put your iPhone down, turn off the TV and take a deep breath…. for just a moment.