“These mountains you are carrying you were only meant to climb.”
The recent election has left many people across our country in a state of panic and confusion. So many all around the globe are boggled and horrified that millions were swayed to vote for a man that lies incessantly via Twitter and intends to, all too literally, hand our country over to oil companies – at a time when the bulk of scientists have warned us of the great dangers of oil consumption. It’s bizarre. Streams of images from Aleppo flood across newsfeeds, and aching hearts full of fear and grief feel too much.
This is not a time to be broken, though. Empathy is what makes us human; it bonds us together. However, the moment it becomes too much to bear, the sadness is crippling. This is true for global issues as well as personal ones. Knowing how to return to strength, certainty, sanity, and hope is vital to lifting yourself and others out of despair.
Here are a few tools to help revitalize yourself when life is too much.
1. Stop the Flood
Even if you only have 10 minutes to spare (an hour is better) insist upon taking the time to turn everything off. Stop checking your feed. Stop reading the news. The only news you need to check in the next 10 minutes is how you are feeling. What is your energy like? What is your mood? Close your eyes and take a look at yourself – not with a mirror but through your senses. What color do you see? Can you picture your own molecules vibrating? How are they moving? How deeply are you breathing? Are you connected to your center? What is your posture like? Does that help you? Do you need to be closed off or do you need to open up and let the energy, blood, & air flow through you more easily? Are you in the moment or lost it thoughts. How do those thoughts make you feel? Are you smiling or frowning? Do a body scan. Where are you tightening your body. Are you doing this to unconsciously feel safer, like you are physically protecting your heart. Experiment with different stretches that counteract the tightening you’ve developed as a habit.
Ask yourself these questions and try to bring yourself to a place of evenness and peace.
Of course, bad things happen to great people and it IS senseless. But sometimes a good mindset can help you feel good enough to smile in the middle of seriously sucky situation. One great reframing thought is to shift from: “Why is this happening TO me?” and transforming it into: “Why is this happening FOR me?” It’s a tiny way of morphing how you look at things that subtly empowers you to feel as if the strange circumstances that face you are there to lift you up, maybe even turn you into a leader, a guide, or connect you to a person or organization. Maybe this seriously shitty thing that is happening will slowly, somehow, turn you into a hero – even if it’s just a hero for yourself. Being you own strongest ally is a feat and finally learning how to lift yourself up is sometimes a lesson you learn the hardest of ways. Maybe the Universe is just trying to kick your ass into gear? Maybe you really are just being tested to see what you are made of? Experiment with how thinking that way makes you feel. Do you feel stronger? What would make you feel stronger?
3. Spend Time in Nature
Just a quick walk in the woods or by the sea clears out all the negativity that has been building up. It needs to get out somehow, and instead of blowing up, lashing out, breaking something or even crying, just go for a walk. Every single time, without fail, walking and breathing fresh air helps. Never underestimate the power of a beach walk. Make it a more active run, hike, or bike ride to feel even better. Remember, we are animals too and we need to move. Feeling physically strong makes you feel more mentally strong and ready to handle what life presents you with.
4. Are You Hydrated?
This is one small piece of advice that is constantly overlooked. It so easy to think that the wall you are hitting means you need crunchy, fatty snacks, or your fifteenth coffee. Try water. I’m serious. A giant glass of chilled water is surprisingly rejuvenating when you feel like you can’t keep going. Give it a try the next time you feel yourself starting to lag, feel frustrated, or confused.
5. Be Grateful
I hate this one. When everything sucks the last thing I feel like doing is being grateful. But it’s true. There is always someone worse off – not that it really makes it any better, because that sucks too. But if you decide to shift to a place of gratitude, you’ll feel better. Focus on what is going right in your life, someone who is wonderful and kind that you know, honor it (or them) with every cell in your being until your eyes twinkle with joy. It takes effort, but you can bring yourself all the way back around to happiness again, which in the end will help you as you try to solve your problems.
Actively take the time to push the pause button and check in so that you can get your energy and mood back to a centered place, no matter what.
One last thought – maybe this doesn’t help, but for how terrible things are right now, they’ve been terrible before. We all die eventually anyway. This is the dark side of humanity, the Yin and Yang of existence. That doesn’t mean we should just passively do nothing, it means finding peace within the fact that these things do happen so that you can figure out a way to lessen the damage, not feel so devastated and depleted or even transcend the chaos.
How do you deal with chaos? Feel free to add your own personal tips and tools in the comments below.