How to cope when it seems that chaos is on every corner

Right now it seems that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. A bit dramatic?

Generally I try to be a glass-half-full person but it can be hard to stay positive when there is so much tragedy and chaos around.

The Russia Ukraine conflict is devastating, COVID is still hanging around with threats of new variants causing uncertainty and, in my own backyard, severe storms and flooding.

People are losing their lives, their homes, their businesses and, even if you are not directly impacted, it’s hard for it not to take its toll.

Wine to unwind?

When I was drinking I would use wine to take off the edge of any feelings of discomfort and stress.

I didn’t want to face what the world was serving up so the numbing effect of wine did the trick … at least for a few hours.

It took the edge off – which is what I wanted in the moment – but of course it didn’t resolve any of the stresses; not my personal ones nor those out of my control.

And while I would argue that it gave me a few hours of reprieve, I then paid for it with the side effects of drinking – hangover, low mood and more stress about drinking too much.

Unwinding without the wine

Now that I choose not to drink, it’s important to find other, more effective ways of dealing with anxiety and stress.

Some of the things I’ve done recently include:

  • Making a conscious effort to stop doomscrolling through all the negative news stories. Yes, it’s important to know what is going on in the world but I was getting caught up looking at one depressing news story after another, and it wasn’t great.
  • Telling my partner and other family members that I had reached my negativity quota so, if they wanted to bitch and moan about anything, I didn’t want to hear it. They took this surprisingly well!
  • Journalling about how I was feeling. Pouring it all out in a journal helps me to work through things. It’s not for everyone. Some people prefer to talk it out with someone else, sit with their feelings or cry into a pillow. You do you! Whatever works is my philosophy.
  • And finally, find some little treat or time out for yourself. I stepped away from the news, social media and work, and lost myself in a painting while listening to a good audiobook.

The bottom line – stop, step back and take a break.

This won’t change any of the external factors that were causing the anxiety or stress but it will change the way you approach the situation.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

Anne Lamott

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