From dramatic political battles to mass shootings, the cycle of tragic events in the world today can sometimes be overwhelming, especially as we go from hearing about one terrible event to another without any room to regroup. Hearing this news can make you feel like a raw nerve at times, even if you’re not particularly sensitive. All it takes is that one photo or accident that’s too close to home.
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Despite all the negativity, it’s important to know and be conscious of what’s happening in the world today, even if it breaks your heart to see some of those headlines. This is where self-care comes in, so you make it to the other side despite the horrors you see on a weekly basis.
Self-care isn’t about being numb or selfish, because needing to take a break doesn’t make you uncaring. There will be times when self-care is simply necessary for your well-being, so here are six self-care practices you can use when the world seems like it’s gone right off the tracks and upside down.
1. Go Ahead And Unplug
When you’re grieving, the best thing you can do may be unplugging for a while. Instead of constantly watching videos of some horrible news event or burying yourself in news reports, you need to step away and take a breather.
Get off and away from your social media accounts, phone, computer and any other devices you have. Take this time to absorb what you’ve learned so far and give it some serious thought, before you bury yourself under a mountain of coverage again.
If you are afraid you can’t resist temptation, make it hard to access your devices or accounts. For example, you could install productivity programs or apps that terminate Internet connections or block access to specific websites for a period of time you set. Put your chargers well out of reach, or stick your devices somewhere that require a bit of effort to get to.
2. Take Time To Ground Yourself
Reconnect with the present, yourself and your body. Get back into touch with the earth, whether that’s by taking a walk in a park and observing nature or practicing some yoga.
Go ahead and place your hands against a tree or right on the earth, and allow nature to absorb the intensity of what you’ve experienced. Notice the feeling of your heels and soles against the ground or floor. Shut your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths. Allow yourself the gift of true grounding, connecting with the earth both metaphorically and physically.
3. Find Some Solitude
Give yourself the chance to process your feelings without any other input, whether that input comes from the news itself, people you know or people online. Spending time alone can be incredibly healing, especially if you’re introverted. Don’t force yourself to process or handle these tragedies aloud and with others if you’re not feeling comfortable with that. Spend some quality time just with yourself – you can meditate, journal or clean up your space, with no one around to entertain or impress.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out if you need to. Solitude can be a healing experience sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with a true tragedy. If you had plans with other people, don’t be afraid of canceling. Simply explain you need to be alone right now, as the right people will understand and give you the space you need.
If you live with other people and find it difficult to get some alone time, designate a solitude space in your house or apartment that’s far away from the main pathways in your home.
4. Center On Sensations
Hear, smell, see, taste and touch. Pay close attention to all your senses and follow your natural instincts for what might do the trick right now. It could be as simple as lighting a candle and taking a hot bath or listening to your favorite band and eating a nourishing meal.
Go with what feels pleasurable to you, even decadent. Relish being in your own body and trust your own intuition. Don’t feel guilty about doing what you need for yourself.
Punishing yourself is never the correct answer, even if the news you’re seeing is unbearable. Making yourself miserable won’t change the news or make up for what’s happened. Slow it down and savor all the sensations you’re experiencing, even if they’re not entirely pleasant. Take the time to be completely in your body, in the present, with true empathy.
5. Be Surrounded By Loved Ones
When you’re completely ready, go ahead and reach out to those people in your life who support and love you. Make a time and place to spend time with the people closest to you, even if it’s just for a phone call. Connecting with others who are sharing the same experience can be very powerful.
Take turns being an attentive listener, and take on the witness role for one another. Share your feelings, thoughts and emotions with those you love, and give them the chance to do the same in return.
Even in the midst of a tragedy, life is meant to be enjoyed. A walk around your neighborhood, a potluck meal or afternoon tea can actually help everyone involved process their emotions in relation to the news. Organize something that lets you connect with others around you who are probably just as affected by the news as you are.
6. Establish Healing Boundaries
As you move forward, set some good boundaries. Maybe it’s time for a break from films or TV shows with loud explosions and violence. Maybe you need to limit how much and how often you engage when it comes to social media.
Maybe you need to be alone more often. Think about your level of exposure to elements that upset you, and how much you’re currently contributing to that, when you’re deciding on your boundaries. Whatever boundaries you decide to set, don’t be afraid to speak up and let all your needs be known.
Even after a specific event has left the daily news cycle, you still may be processing it, so be respectful of your needs and yourself. It’s okay to be upset after something has dropped out of the everyday news cycle, as long as you are doing what you need to do to process it and take care of yourself physically and mentally.
Solid, good boundaries can go a long way when it comes to healing, so take the time you need to select and set yours.
When you find yourself struggling in the wake of a new tragedy, remember the self-care techniques outlined above. You won’t be any good to yourself, the people around you or the people affected by the tragedy if you let your well-being go by the wayside.