In the days following the 2001 terrorist attack on the US, my parents watched the news all day every day. They were teenagers during World War II and adults during the Korean War. The events of 9-11 were incredibly stressful for them. Their anxiety was fed by the dramatic messaging and constant barrage of worst-case scenarios. They felt helpless and were struggling to find anything positive about what was happening in the world. All of our conversations began with their worry about the future and the uncertainty.
One morning I asked them to turn their TV off and only watch the news once per day for the next week. This strategy really helped to reduce their stress levels.
Yesterday afternoon, following the P.M.s latest update on COVID-19, I asked my husband to turn off the TV and we agreed to watch the news (not the late news) once a day only. We went for a walk, chatted on the phone with some friends, bought some groceries for friends who will be quarantined for 14 days when they return from the U.S. this week, did some reading and looked for a series to binge-watch over the next while – no luck with that yet.
We are working on creating a structure for our days because both of our routines and activities have been significantly disrupted.
We live in an uncertain, complex, ambiguous, volatile world. Given the magnitude of the changes we are living with, we cannot expect that reality to change anytime soon, if ever. The crises we experience (blockades, oil production wars, pandemics, escalating animosity between nations – to name just a few) seem to arrive and overlap increasingly quickly.
The greatest challenge we all have in a crisis, whether it is personal or global, is finding our own balance so that we can manage our days, do what we need to do and provide support to the people who need us.
Balance is achieved by identifying what we can control, what we cannot and making the best decisions we can about those things we can control and letting go of the rest.