How to stay well in difficult times

I am troubled by the news each day. And at the same time I cannot wait to read the next horrible thing. It’s like I have a toothache and my tongue just has to rub it to make sure it still hurts. It’s not a comfort but maybe a recognition that I am still alive.

So here’s what I am doing. When I wake up in the morning I find I occasionally indulge in a few tears of pain, anguish or anger. But then, I spend time doing some meditation and Focusing. I find my center place of calmness and comfort that I know and recognize inside myself. I do this for about thirty minutes, first thing each day–after I brush my teeth, but before I have coffee. And for those who know me, to not start with coffee is a very big deal.

  • Then, I go to my mail and Facebook page to see what “actions” I can take. I spend a few minutes sending a letter to a government person or to sign some critical petition.
  • Next, I check into myself again (Focusing) to see if there is an organization that has my same values and donate a few dollars to it. I don’t have a very large income and yet, I can send $5 here or even $30 there. So I support causes I think are important. But at a few dollars at a time and maybe one or two causes a month, I feel like I am helping in some small way.
  • And I keep a journal of my “state of being”. I started doing this years ago when I first began to work with refugees in the San Francisco Bay Area. I can put my distress on paper and then I don’t have to carry it with me all day.

After these early morning activities I find other ways to take care of myself that help me feel like I am actively engaged in a positive way. Some of these are noted here:

  • I make sure I call my friends and family members to find out how they are doing. That human connection in this time of painful external events brings me comfort and even laughter as we find our common ground in a supportive way. Community is important to me, as it is to most, so I look for ways to connect.
  • Whenever possible I accept hugs and share then when it feels right. Human touch, connect, caring–that’s what life’s all about.
  • Every expert on stress management touts the value of exercise, and so do I! I an part of a swim team that meets three times a week for vigorous activity and community fun. We work hard but we enjoy each other’s company. And since we are doing synchronized swimming, it’s hard to get into political discussions when hanging upside down in the water holding your breath. This is a total break from the media.
  • And then, if there is a time or place where I can STAND UP TO BE COUNTED, I pick up a sign that says “Respect” and I go out onto the street with others to be in my community.

I also “stand up” through the work of Focusing Initiatives International. Our global work on Community Wellness feeds my heart and also gives me a sense of purpose. Having meaningful work helps me stay well in trying times. What I find, no matter where I work in the world, is that I have to take care of myself.

I am curious about what you do to take care of yourself. Maybe your difficulty is around a health or family issue and not political. Nonetheless, self care is important, as is the caring for community. If you would like a conversation with Melinda and me, please contact us through our website. We would love to hear how you are coping and how we can join together in a community of wellness.