Adapted from an online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: Do you have any stress-relief thoughts when you can’t turn off the news? I have to monitor the news for work and I’m feeling all kinds of anxiety. I know my prescription otherwise would be to turn it off. What do you do when you can’t?
Stressed: Perspective. This isn’t the only time things have been rough. We’ve had worse — I’ll spare you an itemized list! — or just different bad things to a similar degree, and humanity marches on.
Just before I wrote this, I listened to an account of a certain bad-news event (its exact specs are irrelevant) from someone who had reported through multiple versions of the same bad-news event for the past 20 or 30 years, all of which I experienced to some degree myself as a consumer of news — and just that reminder was reassuring to me. Even having been hit hard personally by one or more of these events. It was like, okay, we’ve been here before, we’ve taken that on the chin before, we’re (mostly) still here, next.
Obviously the effects of any given crisis are not evenly or fairly distributed. Some people are at the life-or-death end of the scale while others observe from afar and think, “Bummer.” But all any of us can do is try to bring a level of coping that reflects the severity of the threat.
That means: enough self-care to maintain as much of our health, emotional equilibrium and mental clarity as we can; enough focus to direct our energy into sound decision-making; and enough streamlining of our regular daily lives to give proper support to whatever decisions we’ve made. This formula works for crises big or small, concrete or abstract.
You know you have to monitor the news, so your decision-making can be oriented toward what you do in your down time to keep yourself steady and either gain or maintain perspective.
Dear Carolyn: How soon is too soon to date someone after a breakup? If they say they’re ready, I should trust that, right? I’m afraid I’ll end up getting hurt when it turns out they weren’t ready after all. I wish I could turn off the anxiety and enjoy it while it lasts, regardless of how long that ends up being.
— Too Soon?
Too Soon?: What you’re really looking for is someone’s presence. Is this person available to me, listening to me, sharing with me, honest to me and honest in their feelings. These are qualities that are either there or not, and they can be absent due to any number of things that have nothing to do with how recently someone was dating someone else.
Keep in mind, too, that anxiety itself is sometimes a legitimate form of not enjoying someone. Meaning, if being involved with a particular person is more anxiety-producing than typical for you, and it gets in the way, then it could be time to see the anxiety is not the problem, per se, but instead a symptom of the problem of being with someone who isn’t a good fit.