Last night I sat alone in my apartment. I have no family nearby. The police and National Guard were surrounding my apartment complex (which is next to an outdoor mall and my area had been threatened with riots and looting).
I fell asleep to the sounds of helicopters, with images of violence in Santa Monica, Scottsdale, and Minneapolis (all places where I have friends) darkening my dreams.
So, how do we find a place of peace and calm in this mad world?
Having lived through Kent State, many mass shootings, 9/11, natural disasters, and loved ones’ illness and deaths, I have (sadly) become a pro at self-soothing, spirituality, and inner strength. Aging has its benefits.
First, practice self-care
Self-care does not mean selfishness. It simply means tending to your body, mind, and soul so you can be in the best possible condition to weather the storm.
- The relationship between physical health and mental health is a powerful one. I began my day with exercise. My gym opened today and the entire management team was at the front door to take our temperatures and greet us. Human kindness and care are also essential (see De-Tox Your Tribe, below).
- Live for today, but don’t give up on tomorrow. Of course, it will be a different kind of future, but dwelling on what’s wrong with the world right now (and that list is long), consider what you CAN do — even if those actions are just for the next 60 minutes — to get into a better headspace.
- Ask for help when you need it. True strength means allowing others to love you and share their wisdom and kindness.
- Step away from the screen if you need to. A fine line exists between staying informed and seeing/reading news that provokes anxiety and depression. I write for this site because the focus is on health and well-being, but I put down my phone periodically for a break from disturbing news and posts. Speaking of which…
Choose your friends — real and virtual — wisely
- Detox your tribe and let the haters go. Over the past 30 days, I have gradually but purposely disconnected from people who lack empathy — the bullies, the nasty texters, and the ghosts (who let themselves go, saving me the effort) — people who detract from your inner peace. I read a great book this weekend — Crucial Accountability — which is all about having those “difficult conversations” when people let you down.
- Listen and learn. Especially today, we are divided by race, politics, and religious beliefs. Good people may disagree, but they will open their ears to your perspectives and engage in conversation, rather than attack. Everyone handles sadness, anger, and fear differently.
- Find ways to help. Whether you volunteer for a non-profit, mentor a colleague, or simply reach out to friends and colleagues to ask, “Can I do anything for you today?” you will find joy in assisting others.
- Teach your children well. As a parent and grandparent, I realize that the values we pass on and the behaviors we exhibit all have a significant and lasting impact. Never has this been more important.
An 8pm curfew remains in effect in my home state for the whole week. I will respect that, eating healthy dinners and curling up under my “adult blankie” each night, indulging in pre-sleep rituals, reminding myself of all that is still right, and dreaming of a saner and kinder world.