The news has been a lot in a short period. More recently, there has been an uptick in teen mental illness and suicides, near-fatal bullying attacks, videos from war, inflation, high gas prices, a possible recession, an intentional plane crash, women's reproductive rights as a target, the rising pandemic numbers, and racially motivated mass shootings, just to name a few. This month alone has been exhausting!
While these situations aren't new, the back-to-back trauma, confusion, uncertainty, and easy access to disturbing and harmful content make it easy for all of us, including our kids, to become overly exposed and overwhelmed by it all. Many people (including myself) feel the same frustration, shock, and hopelessness you may be feeling. What do we do? How do we move forward without living in fear?
Here are some things you can do to get through these challenging times without losing yourself or your sanity in the process.
Acknowledge your feelings.
You're upset, sad, pissed, hurt, scared, frustrated, disappointed, confused, infuriated, surprised, stressed, etc. Don't push it down. Recognize what you are feeling and call it out. Give yourself time and space to cry, journal, meditate, and feel your feelings whenever you can.
Talk to your kids.
Chances are your kids know something about what's going on. Make sure to have an open line of communication with them by giving them space to talk about it. Open communication is a good way to ensure they aren't getting false information and let them know they have a safe place to share their feelings.
Ask them open-ended questions like:
"What have you heard about what's going on?"
"Where did you hear about it?"
"How does that make you feel?"
You would be surprised how their minds can create a completely different narrative than the original story or to find out how anxious they really are about what's happening.
You don't have to have all of the answers. They just need to know they have someone in their lives to talk to who won't judge or mock them for their feelings and concerns.
Give your brain a break.
Turn off the news, mute your notifications, take a break from social media, and shut the world out for a while. Do this daily, or schedule a full day of unplugging and reconnecting with yourself and your family when possible.
Make sure your kids aren't consuming a bunch of news and being fed information through online gaming. From YouTube ads to sneaky comments in game chats, our kids are being influenced and manipulated more than we know. Give their brains a break too by playing family games and having screen-free time scheduled for everyone.
Find your joy.
Don't let the weight of the world steal your joy! Do something fun either alone, with friends, or with your family. Have a special date with your significant other, have a silly dance party with the kids, host a paint and sip with some friends, volunteer at a food pantry, hang out at your favorite store, or sit in silence, focusing on what you have to be grateful for in life. Do something that reminds you of the goodness in the world, your circle, and your life. Protect your peace at all costs.
As the saying goes, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Our impact on younger generations can profoundly affect the direction the world is headed. It is up to us to be a light for our young people by finding the light within ourselves and sharing it with them so they can continue to see positivity and love in this world. It can be tough to do when so much negativity is going on, but it's important to find and acknowledge pockets of peace amid all the chaos.