When thousands of images of refugees, protests, deaths and general political unrest are flashing on our devices all the time it is hard not to feel stressed and depressed about the state the world is in today.
It is important to be engaged and interested in world events and the goings on of humanity. However, we are losing sleep watching vote counts and we are bombarded with horrific events and news stories that are deeply unsettling to many of us.
It is so easy to forget to look after our well-being, switch off and centre ourselves. This is the case with people from all political and cultural backgrounds. I’ve seen many friends upset with the state of the world. Yet when we are so involved and interested in the events of the world around us (which is a good thing) how do we then look after ourselves and our mental well-being when we are only being shown the worst side of human nature? How do we take a step back and disengage from the negative impact all of it could be having on us? How do we stay engaged in the world politically, socially and culturally and not feel so negative?
These are my tips on how to live a balanced and compassionate life in these times of ‘bad news’ whilst trying to stay sane, centred and engaged:
1. Switch off all devices when it is time to go to bed.
This may seem obvious but it is very hard to do when you want to stay engaged with world events as they happen. With social media and modern day news outlets often we get real-time notifications when something around the world has occurred. One of the most important ways to live a balanced life when situations around us seem unstable is being able to get enough sleep.
2. When you watch/read the news, try and remember that they are mainly reporting the negative stories.
It is easy to forget that good things have happened when news outlets focus on the bad. This is not good for our mental well-being as it can create a feeling of helplessness. When you have finished the news – balance it with something good or positive that has happened around the world or in your community. Read something or watch something that provides you with hope or positivity.
3. Do something beneficial for the community, a group of people or the world in general.
Ideas and examples could be: a charity bake sale, donating some money, clothes or books to a charity, run or do a sponsored activity for a cause or even just help a friend or a family member with a difficult time or difficult task. This will help you remember to be compassionate and provide the positivity that the world seems to be lacking in the news and benefit society as a whole.
4. Try to live in the moment and practice mindfulness techniques.
This tip may seem alien to some but mindfulness and meditation techniques are a great way to centre you and help you to live in the present moment. When you feel dragged down or low by ‘bad news’, it can be really beneficial to breathe mindfully, meditate and try to bring stillness into your life. To read an introduction to meditation techniques by one of our writers at Japa, click here.
5. Make the conscious decision to only look at social media when you choose to.
It is very easy to click on social media and scroll endlessly with no aim or purpose when you are bored. This can be fine and sometimes fun to see what friends (old and new) are up to – however, it can also be full of endlessly negative posts. Therefore, do not absent-mindedly scroll. Make the conscious decision when you want to go on your social media accounts and when you should turn it off and do something else.
6. Read more for fun.
Reading more novels, literature or books or leisure is proven to reduce stress. It engages your brain in a productive way, builds intelligence and reduces stress.
7. Talk about the news with family and friends.
There is no reason to avoid talking about the news. Often, you can solve more issues by talking it through. It can make you feel more connected based on either similar or different points of view. There is importance in healthy debate around these topics. However, do not let these debates upset your spirit. This is about engaging in the issues in a healthy way.
8. Do not lose faith.
Perhaps the most important one – it is easy to feel hopeless and helpless while surrounded by an ever constant stream of ‘bad news.’ Do not lose hope or faith that things will change for the better. Even you can make a difference to the world and the most ordinary people can do the most extraordinary things. Do not let the bad news around us stop you from having faith in the good and positive things people can and are doing.