Political unrest, the pandemic, and economic stress made 2020 a year everyone wants to forget but no one can. We all hoped the new year would usher in peace. Unfortunately, the violent events of last week destroyed that hope.
As a small business owner and a mom of a toddler and newborn, I’m scared. What kind of world will I be raising my kids in? What kind of people will they be forced to live with? These thoughts, and a myriad of other worries, ran through my head this week.
If you’re feeling the same, like your mental state is crumbling because of current events, you’re not alone. It’s easy to let yourself be brought down by the chaos around you, but when you’re hopeless, you’re unproductive, unhealthy, and not living to your full potential.
I know that my kids are depending on me to lead them through these situations. Letting my mental health deteriorate isn’t an option.
I’m guessing it’s not an option for you either. Let’s talk about how we can protect our mental well-being and continue to thrive despite current events.
1 Balance Your Information Intake
You’ve probably been told to limit your information intake. Set a timer, check your social media channels once a day, etc.
I’ve tried this approach as well.
The problem is, whether you’ve read the news for 5 minutes or an hour, the negative stories will still poison your brain, causing anxious thoughts.
After I update myself on current events, I purposely look up something positive before I disconnect from the media.
Just try it. Perhaps more vaccinations were distributed in your community. Maybe your favorite brand is sponsoring the local animal shelter. Search for whatever makes you say, “Oh, that’s nice,” before disconnecting.
2 Plan for the Future but Don’t Fear It
Our basic survival instincts tell us to fear the unknown. That’s perfectly understandable.
One of the most powerful stress-management strategies you can practice is to come up with a backup plan should things go awry. The two most tangible fears people are suffering from right now is the danger to health and financial loss.
Let’s talk about how you can create a plan that can alleviate some of this stress:
- Financial-Take inventory of your financial goals over the next few years. Do you want to have a baby in the next three years? Start budgeting now. Look at your potential financial threats. Do you think your industry is disappearing and you’re fearful of a loss of income? The best thing you can do is take a birds eye view of how you’re spending your money and make an economy-proof financial plan.
- Health- Develop a plan for your specific health concerns. Are you afraid that your family will be subjected to random physical violence? Talk to your kids and create a plan for an emergency situation. Are you concerned about COVID-19? Check your provider’s policies and brush up on best tips for recovery.
3 Take the Focus Off Yourself
Ironically, the more you focus on alleviating your problems, the more difficult they become. Giving your time and support to others naturally improves your mental state.
When you’re hyper-focused on a problem, that’s all you see; when you broaden your scope, the pain is less noticeable.
Here are a few ways you can take the focus off yourself:
- Check in on your loved ones
- Donate to a nonprofit
- Perform a random act of kindness
4 Don’t Allow Your Mind to Wander
Preparation for the future is important, but allowing your mind to become overwhelmed by the “what ifs” will only poison your mental health. These thoughts can cripple you and steal your joy.
Force yourself to remain grounded in the present.
Here are a few strategies you can try:
- Practice gratefulness- An Italian study recently suggested that gratefulness improves a person’s sense of self and reduces anxiety. Instead of focusing on problems,, this positive approach encourages you to look at the good.
- Do an activity you love- Remind yourself that life isn’t awful by doing something that brings you joy.
- Focus on a list- If you’re a task-driven person, try creating a list of items to complete that day. Distraction is my favorite cure for anxiety.
If you feel like every day is riddled with fear and new challenges, don’t dismiss yourself. We are living through historical events that no one knows how to navigate. What you’re feeling is understandable.
However, for your own mental well-being, don’t focus on the negative.
Try to do your part in breaking this vicious cycle of negativity but not allowing yourself to be brought down. Concentrate on the good, plan what you can, and help out where you can.