How I Keep Myself From Losing It When The News is So Awful
By Debbie King, SupafitMama Toronto
Photography by Katarzyna Białasiewicz © 123RF.com
Feb 7, 2017
Within 24 hours of the Quebec City mosque attack, an article link appeared in my inbox. Then, in my newsfeed: "How To Avoid Being Psychologically Destroyed by your Newsfeed". Ann Douglas' aptly delivered message was exactly what I needed that Monday morning.
The flood of posts seemed endless: hurried media reports; outpourings of sadness and rage; urgent calls to action from socially-conscious friends. And all of this hot on the heels of nation-rocking political upheaval. I told my husband what I'd heard. Beyond that, I didn't know what to do with the news. It was jarring. Sad. Scary. Too much to deal with. So I put it aside, got dressed, and went on with my usual day.
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Weeks earlier, when news spread of U.S. funding cuts that would affect women's health organizations worldwide, I didn't want to be silent. I joined 60,000 others at the Women's March on Washington in Toronto. And months ago, when news spread of yet another black man shot by police, I couldn't stop my tears. I cried twice at work that day, comforted by two equally shaken colleagues.
When bad news hits us, the emotional impact can be hard. How do we, then, continue our days as leaders, employees, parents and friends while processing our own thoughts and feelings? Ann's article validated my mixed feelings and reactions. I had, on different occasions, employed each of the strategies she advised. Whether engaging or withdrawing, I saw I could trust my intuition to guide me in a way that's healthiest for me.
When maintaining a healthy mind and body, we're better able to deal with our day-to-day, and cope with extraordinary stresses as they arise.
I especially appreciate the advice to stick to usual routines as much as possible. For me, that includes the gym, and thankfully so. My high-intensity training sessions are my haven from gargantuan political worries and the minutiae of everyday life. The energy and focus demanded by each workout allows no room for extraneous thoughts. And the aggression inherent in weightlifting and sprinting provides a welcome release. I know others who achieve a similar effect through running or cycling; others through yoga or meditation.
Many health and fitness professionals attest to the connectedness of physical, mental and emotional well-being. I believe that when maintaining a healthy mind and body, we're better able to deal with our day-to-day, and cope with extraordinary stresses as they arise. That doesn't necessarily mean taking up marathons or contorting your body into impossible poses. Here are a few fitness and health practices through which you may find personal refuge, release or healing:
- High intensity workouts: bootcamp, combat or dance
- Focused, mindful movement: tai-chi, martial arts, Pilates, dance
- Leisure activities: walking, bike-riding, snowshoeing
- Therapeutic health practices: massage, steam room
- Self care at home: epsom salt bath, stretching, sleep
- Professional services: nutritionist, counselor, therapist
The state of your health won't change the news. Anger, fear, sadness and confusion are hard-hitting realities that we'll continue to face. Whether you take a cue from this list, Ann's article or elsewhere, it's about having healthy coping strategies to draw on when it all feels so awful.
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