How to Reduce Stress When the News is a Mess

It seems like an understatement to say that, globally, there has been a lot going on. Just recently the United States Supreme Court (in effect) nullified the Miranda rights requirement and ended the decades-long federal regulation which allowed for abortion access. As I’ve been meeting with clients, time and time again, we create space for the things happening in their individual lives but also work to find how to reduce stress when the news is a mess.

It’s Not “Just the News”

I have to be crystal clear when we talk about these issues, because for many people these are not just news items they have to deal with. These kinds of societal, and legal, shifts represent real impact on the lives of people. For a lot of us, these changes, along with upcoming ones, signal looming fear of other advances in the past few decades being taken away as a small group of legislators impose their thoughts and morals on the population at large.

It’s hard to stay hopeful…or even plugged in when your identity, and your rights, are constantly under attack.

Find peace and refuge wherever it makes the most sense for you

Therapy Can’t Fix This

In this post I want to offer some suggestions for people who are trying to cope in these times, but I have to be honest and state the obvious – no skill or strategy saves anyone from societal and legislative disenfranchisement. Therapy can not save us here. I know this. The only solution here is for necessary rights to be restored and stabilized in the law, and our society as a whole.

At the same time, we also need tools right now to cope and continue to be functional on a daily basis.

We Have to Find Refuge to Reduce Stress

One idea that I’ve returned to time and time again in my work with clients (and my own life personally) is the idea of finding refuge. That is, when we feel under constant attack and stress, we need spaces that feel easier and give us time, and space, to restore. We need to heal enough to stay functional on a day to day basis. We need spaces in which we can truly rest so that we can get up and fight the next day (in whatever way we choose to do so).

With that, I encourage everyone reading this to explore, “what can refuge look like for me?” What are those spaces that help me feel more at ease? Who are the people who help me feel supported and energized? What are the things that offer me healthy, temporary distraction, and maybe peace even for just a few moments? This is what I call refuge.

Here are some ideas to consider if you’re having trouble getting started:

Refuge in people:

  • Confiding in a close friend or loved one
  • Talking to a mentor
  • Engaging with community members with aligned principles
  • Talking to your therapist or trusted health provider
  • Reconnecting with a supportive teacher or leader
  • Consulting with a spiritual or religious guide
  • Cuddling with a pet

Refuge in places:

  • Visiting a place of worship or site of cultural importance
  • Embracing a quiet spot in a park
  • Resting in a safe place in your home for quiet reflection
  • Connecting with community space with like-minded people

Refuge in things

  • Reading a book that exists in a different world/realm or time
  • Listening to album by your favorite artist
  • Absorbing ambient music in a comfortable space
  • Swaddling in a weighted blanket

In conclusion

Please remember that these are just suggestions to help spark your creativity to find your space of refuge. While it can sometimes feel indulgent to create this space for yourself when there is so much suffering happening you, please try to remember two things: 1) you are deserving of rest too and 2) restoring offers you the opportunity to keep fighting for what’s important for you and those you care about.

No one can fight 24 hours per day, everyday in perpetuity. Be creative, be intentional and choose your refuge wisely.

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