Living Your Life During Challenging Times
We live in unsettling times. Ongoing wars, threat of terrorism, and an economic downturn combined with our own personal struggles and challenges can cause stress, fear and anxiety about the future. Such feelings can have a cumulative effect on the mental health of Americans. How can people cope and lead “normal” lives” in these challenging times?
We all react differently to news of disturbing events, but there are common feelings many of us experience. Disbelief, fear, difficulty making decisions, nervousness and irritability, sadness and depression and powerlessness are just a few.
Here are some things you can do to cope and maintain a sense of “normalcy”:
- Remain engaged in the world by staying connected with people. Don’t withdraw.
- Talk to family, friends or co-workers about your fears.
- Keep up on the news but don’t watch it round the clock.
- Take necessary precautions. But don’t overdo it. Make an emergency communication plan with family and friends. Re-introduce yourself to neighbors and exchange phone numbers.
- Maintain your regular routine and include time to do things you enjoy.
- Get involved in local activities. Attend a meeting on community preparedness. Send a donation to a relief fund.
- Take care of your health. Make time for exercise and other pleasurable activities that distract you and lower your stress level. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Be optimistic about the challenges ahead. Stay in touch with your spirituality.
If your anxious or “down” feelings don’t go away or are so intense that they interfere with your daily life, seek the help of a mental health professional. This may be especially important for those who live with depression, substance abuse problems, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.