Is the state of the world, bad news or politics affecting your health? It may be and you may not even be aware of it.
If you are like me, you have been pretty upset about the happenings in the world and if you are a United States Citizen, you are also appalled at the state of the nation’s presidential race. I personally find myself feeling stressed and often experience a fearful pit in my stomach when watching the news or simply looking at my feed on Facebook, not sure which is worse, the actual news or how petty, mean and malicious people can be on social media.
I am also very much aware that I cannot have much control over the presidential race, who and why ISIS continues to attack innocent people, or whether people have the right to be offended by current events and lash out their venom as a result. And not having any control is scary, not to mention thoughts of what the future may hold. The more I let myself go into that fear, the worse I feel and the more I feel compelled to agree with the petty and mean things some people say, as I drop down into my lower self.
Worse yet, I end up feeling pretty badly, about myself and in general, physically.
After a while, I also find that I am exhausted. I am exhausted with all the bad news and I say, “Enough!” and eventually stop watching, reading or listening. But when I start feeling better, I begin to feel uninformed and the cycle continues.
How about you?
Do you even realize that even though you may not be directly experiencing the traumatic events that have transpired, you are still traumatized by them? It’s called vicarious trauma.
According to Dr. Pam Ramsden from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom, many individuals who consume negative news from social media suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/05/07/observing-violence-on-social-media-can-lead-to-ptsd/84361.html)
Though we do not have a statistical figure on how many individuals actually have diagnosable, it is likely that most people are developing a keen sense of distrust, anxiety about the future, general irritability with life’s circumstances and are having more frequent experiences of negative emotional states. The end result is a heightened stress or fight or flight response, which means heightened inflammation, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, gastrointestinal distress and so forth.
For most people, not only does the body’s physiological responses heighten, but your higher brain centers that involve higher thinking and rationalizing are also shut down. You become stupid, for lack of a better word.
And stupid, for the most part, often leads to irrational, reactionary, compulsive and numbing behaviors, causing you to not only continue to hate others who don’t agree with you, but ultimately, though you may not realize this, hate yourself, as you numb yourself with alcohol, drugs or comfort food.
So what do you do? I mean, the world is hardly a happy place right now and I can hardly tell you to trust and believe that it will get better any time soon because I don’t have a fortune teller’s lens.
You can stop listening, watching or reading, but then you might feel uninformed and unprepared.
What you want to do is limit your exposure and carve out more time for CARE. When we view tragedies, atrocities or bigotry, our mind starts wondering if we really matter, whether our lives matter, and this ultimately will trigger the fight or flight response.
So you need to make a concerted effort to make sure you matter, at least to yourself, and when you do so, you will find that you are able to extend that care to someone else, helping him or her know that they matter.
Here’s how to CARE:
CLOSE the TV down, internet, newspaper or smartphone (this includes chats or feeds from individuals who tend to be spiteful or mean). Plan scheduled visits to check out what the media is letting you know. You may choose 15 minutes a day or three times a day.
Become AWARE of how the news or information is affecting you. Notice what you feel in your body, the emotions that are coming up and your reactions. Become aware of how your own anger or fear may be adding to the general feelings of unrest.
RELEASE the negative energy, reaction or tension that is building up within you by taking some power breaths then going for a run, walk or to the gym where you can release the emotion constructively. You can also shout, throw pillows around, or use two wooden spoons to hit a bean or rice bag (made from a burlap).
Take a deep breath in.
Then exhale, letting all the air out of your lungs, allowing all your thoughts to float out of your mind into the wind.
Breathe out. Thoughts flow out of your mind into the earth.
Breathe out. Thoughts flow out of your mind into the ethers.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Empty the mind.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
ENHANCE your own life with a loving action, thought or behavior. You may choose to do the following SHIELD® visualization which is also a mnemonic that I give all of my clients, sit out in nature and appreciate the beauty and how lucky you are to be there, perform a random act of kindness, get a massage, write in a gratitude journal something that you can feel lucky for, or enjoy a delicious and healthy meal.
“S”: Slow down and do your power breaths while visualizing white or golden light enveloping you in love and protection.
“H”: Honor what or how you feel. Avoid judging your feelings as bad or wrong. Just acknowledge them and notice where you feel them in your body (notice any tension or feelings of restriction or constriction).
“I”: Inhale, counting to three.
“E”: and don’t forget to Exhale, counting to five.
Breathe in and out until you feel that your mind and body are getting a bit quieter.
“L”: Listen: Listen to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Listen to your heart that is asking you to give it more love and care.
D”: Decide: Decide provide that love and care to yourself. Imagine the white or golden light shining down into your mind, down through your spine and the rest of your body, into your heart and down your arms and legs. It fills your heart until your heart opens like a flower and the light shines out, connecting you to other hearts and the resources you need.
Say these words as often as you wish, “I am enough, I have enough, I have all that I need, come what may I have all that I need.”
If you don’t care about you, who else will?