The news is riddled with outbreaks of genocide, video footage of racism-fueled shootings, sexual assault accusations, government shutdowns, insane political feuds, and more – all of which can leave people feeling hopeless.
Media impacts our overall well being more than you might think: A 2001 study found that watching the events of 9/11 on television triggered PTSD symptoms in some viewers. A similar trend can be reflected in the current #MeToo movement. Many women have reported feeling the opposite of empowered because it made them more anxious and aware of the enormity of the problem or because it triggered past experiences. What’s more, a 2015 study discovered that millennials have the highest stress levels of any age group.
We need new tools to build confidence, clarity, and creativity, especially in these times. As the founder of PleaseNotes, a company of affirmation-filled products, people ask me how they can overcome the overwhelm. The answer lies in self-care. If you are feeling burdened by life, here is a five-step foolproof process to keep moving through adversity and into abundance this year.
Process your feelings
If you’re feeling upset, what’s at the core of those feelings? Get to the source of what’s making you feel so out of whack. Whether you feel vulnerable, hopeless, angry or guilty, pinpointing exactly what is really bothering you gives you the ability to confirm or deny if your feelings about the situation are actually true. Spend 10 or 15 minutes writing out all your feelings about the issue without any self-judgement. Once you feel complete, don’t read it. Light it on fire or rip it up when you’re done. Trust me, the act alone will feel free.
“Love and fear cannot occupy the same place at the same time.”
As quoted in HuffPo, “negative experiences are like velcro and tend to stick in our minds, whereas positive experiences are like Teflon and more readily slip away.” By initiating feelings of appreciation and gratitude, you will be able to feel a shift physically and mentally. Start a gratitude journal by writing 25 things you’re grateful for with no judgment. After writing it, read it out loud, multiple times if you want, and feel the change happen. I feel stuck when I worry I cannot do what’s being asked of me. In those moments, I pause to appreciate all the amazing things in my life, like how much I have overcome and achieved, which makes gratitude easier. If you don’t have time to write 25 things, then make the decision to notice the little things as you go through your day. It can be small stuff, like strong wifi, Starbucks, or Nutella.
Move your body
Motion is one of the simplest ways to shift your mood. As reported in studies by the American Psychological Association, there are multiple ways exercise can shift your mood. Whether it is the extra boost of mood-lifting serotonin or the general feeling of accomplishment for a task well done, there will be a noted difference in how you feel. It could be as simple as doing a set of jumping jacks, lifting weights, or going for a jog. Making these moves will help you shift into a place of abundance. I personally like to take a deep breath and jumpup and down three times while yelling, “I am excited, I am excited, I am excited!” It gets the blood pumping, and I feel amazing after.
Surround yourself with positive messages
Keep affirmations, and pictures of loved ones in different places so you can see them throughout the day, like on your mirrors, windows, and at your desk. Affirmations are a powerful way to quickly shift your mood. As reported in Psychology Today, “an affirmation can work as it has the ability to program your mind into believing the stated concept.” For an affirmation to work, it must be at least 50% believable and include something that is relatable to you. By repeating it, your subconscious starts to believe that what you’re saying is true. Say your affirmation whenever you need it, and to make it more powerful, look yourself in the mirror when you do it.
Ask yourself: Is this helping or hurting?
There is a difference between feeling empathy for a person’s situation versus taking on their pain. If you feel empathy for someone else, you understand and resonate with their emotions yet you can separate yourself from the situation without guilt. Feeling depressed because someone is going through something heartbreaking is unhelpful and unhealthy. You’re not responsible for fixing everything or for carrying the weight of the world. If you can’t take direct action on a specific issue, do something positive for someone else instead: Buy a stranger’s coffee. Send someone a nice text. Compliment someone’s shoes. Giving love is the quickest way to feel love, and we definitely need more of that these days.