If you're anything like me, it's been hard to open a newspaper recently and not feel a sinking sensation of despair. Coups, gun violence, terrorism, Brexit, the refugee crisis, and the passing of sports and music legends, these are just some of the grim headlines 2016 has offered up so far.
It's enough to make you consider burying your head in the sand -- or giving up hope. But of course the parade of bad news won't stop just because you ignore it (in fact, it might even get worse if enough of us did that), and in this connected day and age, it's near impossible to hide from the world's problems. So how do you keep your spirits up and your mind focused on whatever positive action you can take?
After the parade of horrors over over the last several weeks, it's a question I've personally struggled with, which is what made me so appreciative of a recent Quartz article from Jenni Avins. In it, Avins insists that "self-care is especially important in the wake of trauma" before offering thoughtful advice on how to keep hopelessness at bay despite the horrors that fill the news. Here are just a few of her many ideas.
1. Take time if you need it.
First and foremost, if your heart is heavy from the news right now, Avins article is an encouraging reminder that you're far from alone and you're definitely not crazy. It really has been grim. So if you need to take a little time to process, please do so, Avins urges readers.
"The Cut's Ashley Weatherford wrote eloquently about taking a personal day following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile--to absorb the information, stay on the couch, read Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric, and eat ice cream," she notes. If you need to take a similar mental health day, give yourself a break and take the time you need.
2. Remind yourself of our common humanity.
In the face of monstrous actions, it's easy to start to wonder if monsters walk among us. But it's important to remind ourselves that the vast majority of people of all races, religions, nationalities and political preferences share the same basic aspirations.
"We all want the same things," Avni insists, pointing out that while the headlines blare out our differences and conflicts, around the world everyday people are quietly living decent lives and dreaming of a better world for their kids just like you but totally unsung. Empathy will the foundation of all lasting solutions to our problems.
3. Celebrate victories.
Even in grim times, there are always bright spots. Take time to locate them and enjoy them. "Serena Williams won her 22nd grand slam title at Wimbledon on Saturday. Then, Portugal won its first Euro championship the following day, against France. (That's soccer, in case you've been too busy playing Pokemon Go.)" she points out. There's joy to be found.
Or if you're on the verge of losing your faith in people, Avin suggests you check out this video of a tiny Portugal fan consoling a distraught fan of the opposing French team. It will remind you that no matter how black things seem, humanity and connection are a better, happier response that cocooning yourself in sadness and anger.