I’m sure most of us have had thoughts of “what in the world is going on?” from time-to-time during the course of the past 18 months?
Not only have we had our world turned upside down due to COVID-19 and the devastation this has brought in its wake, but we are bombarded with news of war, church shootings, street stabbings, off-the-scale racism, hatred, climate change, people being displaced and fleeing war torn countries, substance misuse and addiction levels increasing in monumental proportions…. the list goes on and can be somewhat overwhelming.
Nothing new under the sun….
I know these things have (for the most part) happened before, and whilst “there is nothing new under the sun,” it does not change the fact that these things seem to be accelerating year-on-year, making the enormity of it all very difficult to comprehend.
So what can we do to help us get through these turbulent times?
I’ve put together a few thoughts which I hope will be of help. These are plain and simple things, but effective never-the-less to help us stay mentally fit and well.
1 Determine to regulate your media intake. Perhaps listen to the news once per day (or even once every couple of days) instead of tuning in multiple times during the day might be a good idea. Take yourself away from listening to all the negativity in the world for a while and concentrate upon something uplifting and positive – why not try an audio book or tune in the radio and listen to some upbeat music for a while. This is not “burying your head in the sand” when it comes to world problems, this is “self-preservation”.
2 Swap the remote control for your trainers and take yourself off outdoors. When it’s time for the news, rather than sitting down listening to all the world’s problems, why not take yourself out for a walk or a cycle around the park/village/block, etc for the next half hour. Or sit down with a puzzle book and while away the time you would normally be listening to the latest news bulletin. The world won’t come to an end if you miss a few episodes of the 5 O’ Clock News.
3 Pray. If what you have listened to on the News this week has upset or unsettled you, pray about such things and commit them to God. His shoulders are so much bigger than ours…. and He’s a good listener!
4 Practice gratitude. When you hear bad news, consider all the positive and pleasant things in your own life and I guarantee you will feel a sense of gratitude. And whilst being grateful for your blessings doesn’t negate something dreadful that may have happened somewhere on the other side of the world, etc., it does keep your life in perspective and keeps you grounded. Try it and see!
5 Help another. If you feel moved to help improve the world in some kind of way, perhaps you could consider the following:
One day a man was walking along the beach
when he noticed a boy picking things up
and gently tossing them into the ocean.
Approaching the boy the man asked, “What are you doing?” The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean.
The surf is up and the tide is going out.
If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
Laughing to himself, the man said, “Son, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?
You can’t possibly make any difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down,
picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the ocean.
Then, smiling at the man, he said,
“I made a difference to that one!”
Is there someone who could do with a hand cutting their grass, picking up shopping, receiving an anonymous card with a little financial support, etc? You might not be able to change the news on a world-wide kind of way, but you could change the life of someone living just round the corner from you, etc. What could be better than spending half an hour being good news to someone who could do with your help rather than listening to bad news on the TV!
6 Spend time in nature. It’s a scientific fact that spending time in nature can help de-stress us, reduce anxiety and helps us fight depression (amongst other things).
Green space seems to be especially important for residents of urban environments, according to a Dutch study of 250,782 people, which found a strong positive connection between green space and health.
Check out the following: Health Benefits of Being Outside.
It’s interesting to note that the Bible teaches about the benefit of relaxing in green open space likewise, e.g.
Psalm 23:2 – ” He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters….He restores my soul….”
In bygone days, shepherds used to move their sheep around the hills from one green pasture to another. Better still if the green pasture was near a lake or some other still water source where their sheep could rest and be refreshed.
Likewise health specialists/scientists determine that not only is green open space good for us, but so also is time spent by the waters (beach/pond/lake/gentle river).
It’s not bad to ‘feel‘ sad about the state of the world
Finally, feeling bad about the sad events we hear about isn’t necessarily a bad thing…. it shows we are capable of caring. However, we need to be able to carve out our own comfort. If difficult or negative news make us obsessive about something and/or begins to affect our mental well-being, perhaps it’s time we seriously consider the aforementioned. Tuck away the remote control for a while, and perhaps consider some (or all) of the above. As already mentioned, these things don’t mean we are avoiding uncomfortable facts, rather they are intended to help us maintain a healthy mindset in the midst of a turbulent world.
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