How to self-regulate in today’s highly charged world

Has all the hatred, violence, and negativity reflected in the media got you down? You’re not alone.

Turn on any news channel and you’ll be greeted by messages of hate and intolerance: Nazism, anti-semitism, racism, homophobia. It hurts to see the violent imagery produced in the name of freedom of speech. 2017 has a rocky political climate and has been a year marked by deep dividedness, spirited protests and a lack of civil discourse. This month alone has already been marked by the tragic events in Charlottesville and Barcelona.

I don’t know what it is like for you when you see the news. You can be one of the people who get sucked in by the tragedy and the sadness turns to dysregulation and even dysfunction. Maybe you are full of rage and you rally in the streets. You can also be just tuning it out because it’s too much to bear. I get it. Regardless of your heritage, location, political party, or beliefs, I’m sure you are affected by current events. In order for you to live a good life, self care is needed — in these trouble times especially.

For me, I’ve been experiencing a roller coaster of emotions. In light of the current events, I had to draw on some of the same tools I use with my coaching clients. I’m going to share these with you now, in hopes that you too can better self-regulate.

I’m human, a woman, Jewish and Israeli. Just like you, I was made in God’s image. The rise of antisemitism makes me feel unsettled. Antisemitism is a toxic, blood-red line throughout our world’s history. It’s no secret that there are many countries that want Israel/Jewish people to be wiped off of the face of the earth, obliterated from the world population. As an Israeli Jew, I have experienced many wars, terror attacks and the aftermath. Every year, on Holocaust Memorial Day, I stand in silence in the memory of the 6 million men, women and children who were killed because they were Jews like me. I still believe in the American dream. This is why it is so surreal for me to experience Nazism in the USA in 2017.

What I find to be the best emotional aid in challenging times is camaraderie, positivity, and a healthy sense of humor. I’m not kidding you. Humor and laughter are powerful medicine for a heavy heart. It helps you filter out negativity, take things in stride, lighten your mood, and regain your personal power. It’s not about burying your head in the sand. You can still live your life to the fullest, in a happier way, while staying educated and involved.

Here are 7 helpful tips to help you stay sane in this crazy world.

1. Remember to breathe

Breathing might seem like an obvious suggestion. It’s an involuntary act that we do every minute of every day. In times of stress, however, we often forget how to breathe the right way. You might notice yourself taking short, shallow breaths when you’re anxious, scared, or angry. Focus your mind on taking deep belly breaths. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Breathing deeply and with intention is self-regulating, superoxygenating your cells and eliciting a relaxation response. A breathing exercise can quickly dissipate your feeling of overwhelm.

2. Be mindful

It’s easy to get drawn into the chaos going on around us. When we focus on the external, we lose can focus on the internal. Then we aren’t fully present. Our minds are wired to race a mile a minute, especially in times of stress. It’s important to stay abreast of current events, but it’s equally important to be fully present. Mindfulness is a mental state that’s achieved by being wholly focused on the moment. It’s known to lower stress and anxiety levels. Take time to sit in silence, meditate, or reflect while engaging with your surroundings. By focusing on the now you can feel less overwhelmed about the future.

3. Be in a place of gratitude

You cannot be in fear and in gratitude at the same time. Focus on what’s working right now to help shift your emotions and elevate your mood. It’s easy to get swept up in the negativity. We can get so engrossed in what’s wrong in the world that we forget to appreciate all the beauty and the miracles. Think about all the blessings in your life – whether it’s the job you have, the people you love, or the community you are a part of. Our most basic conveniences will be seen as a luxury to a majority of the world’s population. Take time to reflect and appreciate the gift of this moment, of this precious life that you have. Verbalize your thanks, sending positive vibrations out into the world.

4. Pay it forward

The more you give, the more you receive. I interviewed my friend Jaz Presence, who is a transformation coach and meditation trainer, on my podcast Stellar Life. His advice? Create wealth through giving and loving. Giving back to others is a powerful way to access the state of fulfillment. Paying it forward is easier than you might think. Fill your day with random acts of kindness. The simplest acts, from smiling at a stranger to giving to the less fortunate and to charities, can create a greater connection between you and others.

5. Spread positive messages

Have you been on social media lately? You’ve likely seen heated political arguments and hateful comments. We may have stark differences in opinion but there’s nothing to be gained from spreading the hate and judgment. Instead, strive to be the best version of yourself. You can create a ripple effect simply by staying positive. Share happiness and inspiration with your community. The best thing we can do is spread love to those who need it.

6. Focus on loving relationships

Focus on your relationships that bring you joy and happiness. That means spreading love with the people you see every day and those you don’t. Sure, it’s hard to keep in touch with everyone who has had a positive influence in your life. But it might be worth your while to reconnect with an old friend or extended family member and tell them how much you love and appreciate them. One short conversation can turn your day around. Share your light with those who have had an impact on your life.

7. Control the controllable

Don’t give up. You can make a difference in the world. It’s only natural to feel overwhelmed and helpless in the current climate of intolerance. Yet, rather than focus on what we can’t control, we must focus on what we can do to make a positive impact in the world. Join a passion project to make your contributions felt in your community. Find a group or organization that needs your help. You can stay happy and positive without burying your head in the sand. Focus on what you can control in the day-to-day and do what you can to make the world a better place.

My family and friends include Muslims and Christians, black and white, straight and gay, and everything in between. I believe that living together in peace and harmony is the way the world should be.

Negativity is infectious. So focus on what you want: love, peace, joy, and the goodness in others. Be a warrior of the light. Spread love in a world that seems to be lacking it lately. Become a part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, simply by self regulating and caring for your well-being.

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