I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a while, and each time I pause to reflect on the horrors of the recent news, another wave crashes and I need more time to come up for air. I don’t remember a time in my life where the world felt so frightening, and where I felt so helpless.
I’m devastated by the race relations travesty I’m watching unfold. I’m outraged at what I see, but don’t know what my place is in the fight. The same way as millions of people feel hunted and persecuted because of the color of their skin, I feel like I’m part of the problem because of mine, and it’s hard to know what to do or what to say to my black or Muslim friends without sounding insensitive or like I’m on a bandwagon-du-jour.
I’m overwhelmed with grief for the families who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence— and to the now-normal routine of our politicians, who extend their deepest sympathies and then do absolutely nothing to protect more families from the same fate. Surely taking steps to ensure guns can’t be accidentally shot by innocent children is a good place to start? Why can’t we at least start there?
I’m unsure about how to keep my kids safe, or keep safe myself. When innocent people are mowed down by a truck, or taken from us by a suicidal pilot, or blown up by a suicide bomber… how can I leave the house and not be on edge? I see the anxiety in people’s eyes everywhere I go now: In airports, in the grocery store, at a concert or sporting event… a loud noise or sudden move jolts people’s already-frayed nerves and it’s clear that we’re all carrying the same stress on our shoulders.
And while I’m not going to get into anything political on this site, I will say that I feel embarrassed by the discourse, the soundbites, and the tenor of this country’s election. I don’t know what to tell my kids when they see people on both sides of the aisle lie, cheat, steal, and bully each other, and how little regard politicians and the news media have for the truth. Regardless of who becomes president, we’re headed in a scary direction.
I think for so many of us, life feels overwhelmingly frightening, and it’s becoming a huge effort to keep calm and carry on. Here are a few ways I’m coping with the news right now:
I’m going to do something productive
Instead of just donating money to charities (which I do often) I’m making a commitment to donate time as well. I’m looking for ways to show up for a person, not a nebulous “cause”. Not to get all woo-woo, but if I can contribute some love and kindness to the collective consciousness, I’ll feel like I’m being some small part of the solution. OK, I got woo-woo, deal with it.
I’m keeping my exposure to news media limited, and less visual
I have turned my smartphone news app notifications off, and am limiting my ogling of the 24-hour news networks. Reading the news once or twice daily (I love the NYT Now app) or listening to National Public Radio (their app is great too) gives me a dose of what’s current, without the sensationalism, the macabre music, and the non-stop loop of graphic video. I mean, sometimes I feel like news networks are producing these events like they’re live theatre. I want to be informed, but reading or listening to the radio is less graphic, and less indelible on my soul.
I’m finding time to breathe
In the morning and before bed, I’m making an effort to find give minutes to sit quietly with myself and try to focus on nothing else but breathing. I have become enamored with Headspace, an app that walks you through guided meditations that help you reconnect with your breath, which has an instantly calming and centering effect. My 11 year-old daughter is that kid who takes on other people’s anxieties, and while I try to keep her away from clips of people being gunned down in an airport, she is very much aware of the news and social injustices. She often has trouble going to sleep, and I’ve been giving her advice from my days as a yoga instructor. We talk a lot about breathing as a way to slow and calm yourself down. I’m taking my own advice, and it’s definitely helpful.
What are you doing to deal with the news right now? Let me know how you’re coping in the comments.