Last week’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris gripped everyone around the globe, and with good reason. Lives were lost in an unwarranted, vicious cycle of events, that targeted innocent people going about an ordinary Friday night in the iconic city. For those natural born worriers, the impact of the events can be even more paralyzing. And although it may seem perfectly fine to cancel a weekend plan or two, it’s important for anxious types especially, not to retreat into a bubble.
While it is important to stay up to date on the events unfolding, self care is more important than ever. Here are some tips to calm anxieties during a particularly stressful news cycle.
It’s ok to unplug.
Stick to an update rule. Watch the news at the top of the hour, to get all of the necessary facts you need. After you’ve gotten an official update, you’ll notice that news anchors will usually segue into the same report in a loop, to keep those tuning in at any moment completely informed. After the first loop, change the channel to something lighter. With Netflix, HBO GO, and even ABC Family, there are plenty of options for carefree fare to relieve the panic you may feel while watching the news. Social media is a bit tougher. Along with news updates, you’re also digesting the feelings of those you follow on Twitter and your Facebook friends. It’s important to empathize- it’s what makes us human after all. But it’s just as important to log off and clear the noise.
Enjoy a treat.
In times of tragedy, two things are so evident: the humanity and kindness shown, and the reminder that life is short. Indulge in an extra slice of pizza or glass of wine, and cut your to-do list in half. Life is worth living, so enjoy the fun stuff!
Mute your internal “What if?” soundtrack.
Take it from a professional worrier- this thought process does more harm than good. Even though worrisome thoughts seem like a protective practice, the truth is we can’t control what we can’t control. Period. Of course, it’s not easy to turn off your fears, but try to acknowledge them, take a deep breath, and keep it moving.
Turn up to happy jams.
It’s been proven that music is a great way to reduce stress, and call to mind the best of memories. Whether your happy place is Future and Gucci flip flops, or the “baby I’m begging” ooh yeahs of ’90s R&B, keep your headphones filled with the sounds of music that makes you smile.
I’ve never seen a sad person doing the nae nae.
Group chats are your friends.
My friends have an Instagram group chat that’s all about ridiculously hysterical memes and videos we spot all day. It’s strictly for laughs, whether it’s Drake dancing merengue, or Anthony Hamilton‘s genius gospel remixes, and it keeps the good times flowing all day. The millennial set is dope for using social media for a laugh, so indulge in the hilarity for a couple of minutes to take a much needed mental break.
Get some fresh air!
Don’t hibernate with your laptop and iPhone- you need some human interaction! If you’re feeling super overwhelmed, head over to a friend’s house for some much needed bonding time. You can also just take a walk alone (with those happy jams) to get a breather. As you notice those around you getting through their days as usual, it’ll help you remember that even when tragic events happen, time’s still ticking.
In my opinion, there’s no better way to clear your mind than with an amazing sweat session. Exercise not only offers you time away from the news and solid solo time, it also pumps you up with feel good endorphins. From high-impact exercise like Crossfit, or a mellow hour of yoga, the returns are immediate and so helpful during stressful times.
Talk about how you’re feeling.
Although it’s important to take breaks from the frightening news, it’s just as important to express how you’re feeling and not internalize the emotions. When we’re faced with horrifying images and massive loss of life, we have to process what’s happening. Whether it’s talking to a friend, journaling, or having a therapeutic cry, it’s healthy to unbottle the emotions that are completely natural to feel in moments of tragedy.
Stick to your routine.
The worst thing you can do is begin to avoid places or events out of fear of a terrorist attack. The effect may feel like a cure all to your anxiety, but it’s only a band aid that can actually stifle your amazing every day life. Even though it may seem overwhelming at first, stick to your daily routine and your usual haunts, and fear won’t keep you from the places and things you enjoy.
Find out how you can help.
Tragedies can make us all feel helpless, but finding a way to give back can be more powerful to combat fear. The entire world has been moved with artwork and hashtags, like #prayersforparis and countless others. On Friday night, Parisians offered sheltered to victims using the hashtags
#PorteOuverte and #OpenDoor.
To provide comfort, a musician traveled 400 miles to play John Lennon’s “Imagine” on piano, outside of the Bataclan, where almost 100 concertgoers were taken hostage and killed.
For those who can’t get to Paris, there are other ways to help. The French Red Cross has deployed 300 volunteers to help aid relief efforts in Paris, and set up help centers. You can donate to the Red Cross here, as well as Doctors Without Borders, also on the ground in Paris. Charity Navigator is also a great option to find an organization you can trust.
Those in Paris can also donate blood to the French National Blood Service.
And for those who are looking for missing loved ones, you can check in with Facebook’s Safety Check feature, which helped to unite many during Friday’s horrific attack.
While digesting all of the troubling reports, the spirit of those in Paris has done more healing than anything you could ever read online.
SOURCE: Twitter, Facebook | PHOTOS: Getty