The ugly side of the world has shown itself a lot lately, particularly showing us bloodshed and carnage. Merciless shootings have left innocent victims in our streets and placed fear in our hearts and homes. That fear doesn’t just fill my heart and occupy my home, it consumes my mind and intensifies my already overwhelming anxiety.
It is difficult to manage my anxiety when the world around me is spinning with hurt and violence. Here are the five ways I cope:
1. I don’t watch the news.
I believe it is important to stay informed of what is going on in the world but only until I’ve reached a certain point. When I start to obsess over what I see in the news and lose sleep because I’m too anxious and scared to shut my eyes, I know it’s time to put down the newspaper, turn off the TV and abstain from social media.
2. I don’t isolate myself.
Being overwhelmingly anxious is bad enough. For me, being anxious alone is even worse, especially when I’m experiencing fear. I find safety, physical and mental in numbers. Even if I don’t want to be social due to my social anxiety, I surround myself with others who will have a positive influence on my mood. I feel better and less anxious by being around my friends and family even if my social anxiety tries to keep me from them.
3. I journal.
The worst part about my anxiety and being afraid is how I obsess over both of those feelings. I try to expel the anxiety and fear from my worried mind by journaling about it. I imagine I am physically spitting out the words and they are getting literally stuck on the page and are indefinitely out of my mind. It works for me. As I write, I feel more calm, more in control of my thoughts and not as anxious or scared.
4. I go to church.
When everything in the world seems dark all at once, I seek light at church. The minister’s message is enlightening and being amongst the congregation is comforting. Church requires me to get cleaned up, which boosts my self-esteem and makes it easier to let my inner light shine through to others, who may also be encased in the darkness of the world. Church is like a lighthouse in the night. I seek it like a lost ship and feel safe when I find it at church.
5. I volunteer.
The world definitely needs more love, more hope and more people trying to do good. I do my small part in giving others love and hope by giving my time as a volunteer at places like my local nursing home and Humane Society. When I volunteer, I’m helping others in need. When I’m helping others, I’m able to let go of my fear and anxiety for a little while. Volunteering in this world right now means doing a little bit of good when we’re all focusing on the bad. Helping others temporarily cures my anxiety and shifts my focus from fear to focusing on the good in the world.
When our world turns dark, violent and mean, my anxiety becomes hard to manage and I become scared. I don’t think rationally when I’m scared and don’t see my world in a healthy way when I’m anxious. Instead of letting my fear and anxiety control how I see the world, I do these five things in attempt to manage my fear and anxiety, and to remind myself that even though bad things are happening in our world, there is still good.