How to Stay Sane in an Insane World

The last few weeks have seen us lurch from one bad news story to the next. From terrible storms and floods to devastating fires, from personal tragedies and challenges to political and economic dramas and upheaval. It’s hard to keep up with it all. At the end of last week, I wrote down all the things that had gone on in just that week – for our country and the world, as well as personally for me, and for close friends and family. It was astounding to see what we are all trying to cope with – a world and individual lives that are changing on a weekly, daily and often hourly basis. And how can we possibly navigate this and still feel sane? How can we be empathic and supportive without being drowned by life? These are big and hard questions.

But we have to keep going. We have to find sanity and peace otherwise our bodies start to break down, physically and emotionally. When we’re in that state we set the stage in our bodies for pain, chronic disease, depression and anxiety. And so, as we are surrounded by stress and tragedy, we have to use all our tools to keep ourselves sane. Here are 8 of them:

1. Take a deep breath, and then take another. Stop in this moment to take a minute’s worth of slow, deep breaths and relax your body as you do so. Do this often in the day. It keeps you in the present and calms your body down. You’ll feel better for it.

2. Feel your sadness and fear. Journal about it. Sit quietly and mindfully and acknowledge that sadness and fear without trying to suppress it by being busy or distracting ourselves by going onto social media. And once we’ve actually “faced” how we feel we can often move more easily through it, rather than keeping it in the background, suppressed but constantly gnawing away at us.

3. Do what you can. One of the most stressful things is when we feel powerless over a situation. And allowing oneself to get consumed by the news does not help. So many things are beyond our control and we have to surrender. “It is what it is”. We have to release the “why” and the “it shouldn’t be like that” – it makes our suffering worse. So, do the things you can – light a candle for those suffering and offer up love and prayers for them whenever you see the candle. Donate (money, goods or time) to causes that are helping “on the ground”. Do something supportive to help a friend in need – a lift, a phone call, a meal, a message of support.

4. Look after yourself. This may seem “selfish” when others are in turmoil but it does not help the situation if we are all depleted. Enjoy soaking in the bath with a book, put on some of your favourite music, have a massage, watch a funny, lighthearted movie, take time to do exercise or a hobby you enjoy – painting, journaling, gardening, yoga, walking outside, going for a ride. Something that gives you room to breathe, to get perspective and to feel grateful for life.

5. Sing or dance it out. I was at a singalong this week for my beloved granny’s 95th birthday! Once again I was struck by how singing transports us beyond our worries and our aches and pains. It lightens us instantly – in body, mind and soul. I watched it happen in 40 elderly people who were reconnecting with their joy and energy. And I felt it in myself. There’s lots of research and science behind it, but for now just give it a try.

6. Say your gratitudes. Out loud. We return to the “old faithful”. And after weeks like we’ve had, we’re grateful for the “normal”, “ordinary”, “boring” days – without the fire, wind, storms, breaking news. We’re grateful for a quiet meal, a warm bed, a hug from our loved ones. This week has shown us all again how much there is to be grateful for and how we cannot take life for granted.

7. Look for the grace. When we look at these tragedies on social media, we are far more involved than we would have been in days gone by, when what we would have seen was a short snippet on the news or an article in the newspaper. Now we are there – sensing the fear, hooked into the drama, seeing the devastation first hand. But something that we don’t often see when we are more distant witnesses to tragedy, is the grace that is there, the kindness, the small miracles, the breaking down of barriers and the best of humanity. And it’s important to realise that those are there and to celebrate them.

8. Hold your loved ones close. We need each other more than ever. We need the emotional and physical connection. The deep hug. The hand squeeze. The “I’m there for you”. Sometimes when we’re stressed we push our loved ones away, distracted by our own anxiety. Let each other in. We need it.

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The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.

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