Most mornings I like to turn on CBC Radio 1 to listen as I get ready for the day. It feels companionable and I get to keep up to date with some of what’s happening in my city and in Canada. Normally it feels good to listen.
But the last several months have been challenging: so much anger, insensitivity, racism, entitlement. So much despair, violence, suffering and fear.
Even though most of us are not directly involved in what’s happening, many of us are holding fear in our bodies. I know I am. It feels like a hard lump in my chest; my body feels tense and rigid; I’m waking up at 2 AM and not able to fall asleep again for hours. It’s hard to focus my brain on the tasks I need to do.
So what can we do?
1. Be gentle with ourselves.
Maybe take an extra break today from what you’re trying so hard to get done, even if it’s 30 minutes. Do something soothing — reach out to a friend to hear their voice; dance or sing along to your favourite songs; go for a short walk and look at the trees and birds.
2. Manage the stimulation.
Too much information (especially challenging information) floods our nervous systems and puts them into sympathetic activation (fight/flight). Know that you will get what you need to know even if you’re not constantly plugged into the news. Maybe glance at print news rather than watching CNN or listening to radio newscasts where you can’t control how you take in the information.
3. Write it down.
Take a piece of paper or open a doc on your computer, and write out whatever you’re feeling. Externalizing it can give us some relief from carrying it in an amorphous, scary mass inside ourselves. We can then move to taking care of that feeling.
4. Do a practice to bring down that sympathetic (fight/flight) response.
Here’s one that I almost always give to clients; it’s from BCST teacher Anna Chitty, and it’s one of the best ways I’ve found to help people feel more grounded and softer in their bodies. (See: Social Nervous System Stimulation Protocol).
5. Get support.
We’re not meant to go through this alone. We’ve evolved to need other humans to help co-regulate us whenever things feel shaky in us. Do you need some counselling support? Can you reach out to a friend who is a really good listener, who can hold space for your feelings without trying to fix you? Even sharing your struggle in a supportive online community is something.
It’s a pretty overwhelming time. May you find some solace and strength in any one of these actions.
Tell me, what works for you when the world scares you? Do share in the comments.
In loving compassion,