In difficult times, it's hard to not feel overwhelmed by the things that are troubling. What we most need are ways to manage anxiety so that we can stay present and respond as wisely and compassionately as possible. This toolkit provides ways to relate to your situation with mindfulness; a sense of common humanity; and compassionate action.
Acknowledge Challenges ~ Be honest with yourself: These are very trying times. Rather than attempting to push away difficulties, name them for what they are. This is the first step in finding relief, or at least living in reality, rather than denial. Bringing mindfulness, awareness and consciousness to your experience helps you feel more grounded and present.
Connect with Community ~ You aren't alone. Remind yourself that others feel deeply challenged, too. Find opportunities to engage with people in ways that feel supportive, either in person or online. This can be planned ~ go to that party, gathering, meeting or meditation group. If you belong to a spiritual community of some kind, attend an event there. Connecting with others can also be spontaneous: pay for someone's coffee in line behind you, thank your letter carrier, talk to the cashier at the grocery store. Also, remember your ancestors and benefactors: people who have come before you, and whose life and work inspire you; they are part of your community, too.
Take Compassionate Action ~ Once you have acknowledged that you are struggling and reminded yourself that you're not alone, find a concrete way to respond to what is challenging you. For example, if you have political concerns in the wake of the election, contact your members of Congress and let them know how you feel. If you want to know how to respond compassionately and be an ally when someone else is being harassed, check out this guide for suggestions. Find an organization whose mission matters to you and volunteer and/or donate.
Resource in Nature ~ Even if it's just for a five minutes, connecting with the natural world can help you recharge and find a sense of being part of something larger than your individual life. Visit a park, beach, or forest regularly. Or, if all you have is the view out of your window, see if you can allow yourself to become absorbed in the sky or tree that's right here. For more exploration of this theme, here's a blog post from a few years ago about Anne Frank and the chestnut tree that fed her resilience.
Honor Boundaries ~ It might be tempting to stay up late, reading news or scrolling through your social media feeds, but doing this can also lead to burnout and overwhelm. Staying informed is important, but it's also essential that you recognize your limits. Power down at a certain time (say, 9pm). Also, think about the boundaries you need in terms of engaging (online or in person) with folks who challenge you in ways that are not generative.
Practice Gratitude and Appreciation ~ Find something to savor in your life right now. Maybe that's an ice cream cone, or a hot chocolate, or a bath with epsom salts. Maybe it's warm socks, or rain drops on a leaf. Maybe it's a favorite playlist, or a cartoon you used to love as a child (or a newer one). Maybe you really appreciate a friend or loved one. Allow yourself to experience what you appreciate and let it register, even in the midst of challenging times.