If you feel overwhelmed by all the awfulness in the news these days, you're not alone -- especially if you're American. In a recent large-scale survey by the American Psychological Association, "the future of the nation" was the top source of stress for Americans, surpassing concerns over money and work, and a majority -- from all generations -- said that they "consider this the lowest point in U.S. history that they can remember." And, of course, alarming political, environmental, and humanitarian news is far from confined to the United States.
To take this on, we need to talk about two things:
the practical matters of the habits and boundaries you can establish to help to shield what's left of your sanity, while keeping the level of engagement you'd like to have in trying to make things better; and
the broader question of how to handle the horror, fear, and/or outrage that arise when you're faced with large-scale suffering and injustice.
Let's deal with the second issue first.
Nature walk - observe the trees
Internet caps and curfews (outlet timer, StayFocused, etc.)
Send out some love (practice lovingkindness)
[These will all be links with explanations once they're developed.]
This valuable point is C.S. Lewis's, but Annie Dillard's gloss of it is so beautiful that I'm quoting her instead:
“C.S. Lewis once noted—interestingly, salvifically—that the sum of human suffering is a purely mental accretion, the contemplation of which is futile because no one ever suffered it. That was a load off my mind. I had found it easier to contemplate the square root of minus one." (For the Time Being, p. 84)
Dillard goes on to make an argument that can help us to draw strength from the knowledge that we're not alone in dealing with our portion of the horrors and injustices of history, and that we can rise to the occasion as the people from the past whom we now call heroes did:
“There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less. [...] In any instant you may avail yourself of the power to love your enemies; to accept failure, slander, or the grief of loss; or to endure torture. Purity's time is always now." (For the Time Being, pp. 88-89)
We gave you lots of options for where to listen to these songs so that you can pick your favorite platform (for example, you might have a membership with one). If you don't have memberships, SoundCloud might be your best bet.