In Times of Trouble

It seems we can’t turn on the news, check social media, or even listen to music without some tragic and emotional event shaking us to our core. Whether it is the political climate, the climate, or the devastating vastness of sexual abuse and harassment- so much of our efforts are directed at how to help, and make a difference in what can feel like a bleak situation.

            Here are some small ways to make a difference in what feels like a time of perpetual trouble.

1) Give of your most valuable commodity.

             I’m not speaking monetarily. Most of us don’t have limitless financial resources. I’m talking about the small things that can make an impact on an individual level, right now. While relief efforts are needed with the earthquakes, fires, and flooding; give of your time. After all, it is the most valuable resource. There are troubles all around us, lend an ear, and give your time to a worthy cause or person. Not only is there research to support that it cultivates good feelings within us; but you may just pay it forward and brighten someone else’s day, who will go on and do the same.

2) Find the heroes.

            The negative is plastered in our faces; most of the time-but there is uplifting news out there. Here are a couple stories I found today. “NFL Eagles player Chris Long donating the rest of his salary to charity.” “ICU grandpa snuggles newborns when their parents can’t be at the hospital.” And “Military vets volunteer to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.” Now, these stories are not front-page news, but they are happening! Go; seek out the heroes in the world. Even if that means googling “positive news today.”

3) Express gratitude.

            There are many ways to give thanks, on an individual to a societal, to a cosmic level. Start small, tomorrow morning when you wake up, and feel heavy with thoughts in your head-check your pulse. You’re alive today…and that’s something. When you’re eating a chicken salad for the fourth day in a row, give thanks for the food in front of you and a full belly. When you accidentally cut someone off on 405 today; wave to the person who didn’t honk their horn at you (and to the person who did). When you come home to the people who love you, after a long day of work-remember that you are safe, and express gratitude. These things add up.

4) Gain some perspective.

I find there is a really quick and easy way to gain some objectivity. Find a 5 year old and an 85 year old to chat with for 5 minutes. The five year old may remind of you the innocence and curiosity in the world. How things can feel new and passionate. The 85 year old, may remind you how the things that are consuming your thoughts and feelings, are ultimately not that important, and can help you prioritize what’s most important in life. Sometimes we just need a reminder of innocence and wisdom, to gain some insight.

And finally…

5) Self Care.

            Never neglect yourself. I can’t emphasize this enough. Now, you may be thinking… “I don’t have time for self care. I have a family, children, a partner, work, meetings, and other demands that are taking up my time…also, what is self care?!” Please review bullet point 1. You are also, worthy of your time. Perhaps you can’t take the week long vacation to Hawaii, but you can do small things for yourself. Here is a list that works for me, I’d love for you to comment and let me know what works for you.

* Listening to soulful music on my drive to work (Nina Simone is a favorite)

* Sitting and having a cup of coffee, alone

* Breathing for 5 deep breaths

* Taking a walk (on my lunch break)

* Calling a friend and reminiscing on a good memory

* Setting aside a time in my calendar to grab dinner with loved ones

* Waking up 15 minutes early (or sleeping in 15 minutes later)

These are small, tiny, itty bitty, differences in my day-but they add up. It all adds up. So, when we are flooded with stress, negative news, and bad days; keep in mind these five things. And perhaps, you can pay it forward too.