In times of crisis, it's important to take care of yourself.
It seems everywhere you look today there’s a crisis — including the Church, which we often rely on to be a refuge from all the other bad news we encounter. Whether it’s crises with institutions and people we have put our trust in, what’s happening on the political and societal front, or our own personal crises that we can’t seem to escape, it’s important we take breaks to refresh ourselves. If we let stress overwhelm us it can send us down a rabbit hole of constant worry or despair, which hurts us and our loved ones and doesn’t help us be part of the solution. Here are 5 things you can do to help de-stress from all the bad news out there …
Fast from the news
Never in history has the human brain had to absorb so much information. The news never stops and much of it is tragic, disheartening, sad, frightening, and frustrating. While it’s good to stay informed about what’s going on around us, we need to give ourselves breaks from the 24-7 news cycle. So take a fast from the news. Whether it’s just a morning, a day, a week, or a regular change to your daily news intake habits — you’ll experience lower stress levels if you give yourself a break. Consider not turning on the news first thing in the morning and instead, taking a quiet walk and pray. Instead of listening to the news in the car, tune in to an inspiring podcast. Instead of turning on cable TV news at night, read a book or watch something light or funny.
Take a break from social media
Likewise with social media — you can’t really get away from the news if you’re on social media all the time. Neither can you get away from relentless negativity. It’s everywhere. Just like with news media, make some changes to your social media habits to get a break. Fast from it for a day or a few days, or check in only at certain times. Unfollow negative people, or block them. Put limits around what you’re taking in and when — it will go a long way in helping you de-stress.
Find a sacred space to pray and reflect
A beautiful church or sacred space can lift your soul and mind to higher things. There’s nothing quite like being in a place where Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist to calm our minds and hearts. If you can find a church with Eucharistic adoration, stop by an hour or whatever you can spend. Or perhaps there’s a church near to you that’s open during the day for visiting. And if you can’t find that where you are, find a quiet corner at home, light a candle, and take some time to read Scripture or do some spiritual reading. Taking time to pray and reflect every day helps the stress to melt away as it gives us the chance to rest in God’s presence and give him our cares, concerns, and fears.
Get out into nature every day
Nature can be another kind of sacred space because it helps connect us to the wonder of creation and to the Creator Himself. Studies show that even just a short time in natural surroundings can lower our blood pressure and calm our minds. So whether it’s a walk in a nearby park, or just some time in your own backyard, take a little time in nature every day.
Take care of your body
When we’re stressed it takes a toll on our bodies. Our blood pressure goes up, our hearts beat faster, our immune systems get weaker, we are more tired, and we have less patience and resilience. So when you’re overwhelmed by stress, get a little more sleep, take more naps, let your body rest. And pay extra attention to your diet — drink more water, and don’t let yourself “stress-eat,” which only exacerbates stress levels.
We can’t avoid all the stresses in this life, but if we learn to take care of ourselves in the midst of trials we can maintain our hope and peace and be better equipped to respond in whatever ways we are called by God.