There sure is a lot happening around the world right now. Earthquakes, record-breaking hurricanes, wildfires, threats of nuclear war, and almost constant protests. Plus, with the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, tragedy is on almost everyone’s mind.
When the world is on fire like this, how can anyone stay positive? It’s far too easy to fall into a depressive spiral, which has physical effects on our bodies and can affect our everyday lives. Yet, self-preservation is essential in these moments. Especially in our modern world: where the latest news is only a click away, and our brains have an extremely difficult time processing all the tragic global news that we see on a semi-regular basis. Maintaining positivity is important for your own health and in staying effective in addressing issues you care about.
Here are some tips on how to stay positive when it seems like so much of the world is falling apart.
How To Stay Positive
When The World Is On Fire
Look for the People Doing Good
Sometimes, all you need is a role model to really get your spirits up. When it comes to tragedies, it’s not hard to find hero’s in the midst and moments of hope. There are always hero’s helping those that are hurt and suffering, and putting their own lives at risk to help others. This can be anything from first responders, to off-duty nurses who immediately kick into action when tragedy strikes.
In Las Vegas, during and immediately after the shooting, everyone on the scene was banding together to help those that were wounded. Nurses who were on vacation leapt into action and provided their skills on the front lines. One mother shielded her daughter from the gun fire. One man, Jonathan Smith, ran back into the gun fire to warn people and help them get out. After saving about 30 people, he himself was shot in the neck and survived. He may live with the bullet for the rest of his life, but he will always be remembered for his heroism.
In the devastation after the hurricanes, city after city was suffering. First with Houston, then to the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and the entire island of Puerto Rico. Yet with each town came a new series of uplifting stories. Boat owners throughout the area banded together to rescue those that were stranded, and in Houston the entire “Cajun Army” arrived to help bring aid.
Puerto Rico, especially, is suffering from a lack of government aid at this time, but a handful of inspiring celebrities and locals are shining through the tragedy. Lin-Manuel Miranda has put so much effort into bringing awareness to the Puerto Rican crisis, and his efforts have helped raise millions of dollars already along with his personal donations. The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, has been working hard on the ground to assist her people, and her drive to call out hypocrites and speak her truth is inspiring in itself.
Despite all the tragedies around the world, there will be plenty of decent people that will arise through it all. Some of them will be neighbors, friends, or complete strangers that will help others out. Some will be celebrities who utilize their platform to do some good for the world. Either way, it is these people that you can cling to that will bring hope back into your heart.
Expose Yourself to Positive Things
When you’re surrounded by devastating news, looking to positive stories can help alleviate some of the immediate stress you might feel. This can be as simple as finding inspiring videos of animal rescues or looking at baby photos of your family members.
Cat or dog videos can be extremely beneficial to your mood, and there’s a scientific reason behind this. In fact, one of the main reasons that cats and dogs became so popular online is because videos and photos provide a virtual form of animal therapy.
One study in 2015 found that internet exposure to cat and dog videos can actually increase viewer’s mood and make them better workers. Specifically, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and guilt were lowered. As quoted from Science Alert: “[This study was] Drawing on some well-known research that showed spending time with pets improved people’s moods and sense of well-being, the study found negative emotions were lower and positive emotions higher after viewing internet cats.”
If you’re being affected negatively by an international tragedy, take some time to yourself to distract your brain and improve your mood. Look for cute animal videos or heroic stories of people helping others to help restore your faith in humanity.
Watching cat or dog videos can be an act of self-care, but self-care is also much more meaningful than simply distracting your brain. Self-care is often described as spending a day in your pajamas, putting up your feet, and watching your favorite television show with a glass of wine.
However, self-care should also be about evaluating, acknowledging, and validating your own feelings and concerns. The whole purpose of self-care is to reflect on our thoughts and to rejuvenate our minds, bodies, and emotional state. It is doing activities that refresh us, and it is not selfish. It requires a conscious understanding of our bodies and our emotional and mental needs.
As one psychologist, Raphailia Michael, MA, wrote for PsychCentral: “What I often emphasize to my clients is that keeping a conscious mind is what counts. In other words if you don’t see something as self-care or don’t do something in order to take care of yourself, it won’t work as such. Be aware of what you do, why you do it, how it feels, and what the outcomes are.”
When international tragedies happen, it can be easy to stay plugged into your phones or social media, hungry for updates and images from the areas affected. But this can be extremely straining on the mind, and can translate to physical problems as well. Being stressed often results in lost sleep, headaches, stomachaches, an increase in blood pressure, and more serious issues. By turning off your phone and stepping away, you can help your body relax, and even get better sleep.
Contribute to Your Community
In many ways, one of the best and most productive things you could do following a tragedy is to contribute to your own community, or the community that was affected. You, too, can become an inspiring figure in a tragedy by donating your money, your resources, or your time to help others in need. It will help you feel better as well.
Of course, not all organizations can be trustworthy, and not everyone has the financial ability to donate money, so financial donations are not the best option for everyone. However, there are plenty of other options available for helping those in need. You can donate blood, food and supplies, or even join a local organizing group that is planning on visiting the area in the coming months.
Additionally, if you’re very far away from the affected area, you can simply use this as an opportunity to help your own community. Find organizations that are in need of volunteers, and fill your free time by bettering the local community. Sometimes simply distracting ourselves and helping others can be enough to make the world a little better.
There are plenty of events happening around the world that can get you down. It’s hard to stay positive when there’s so many tragic stories, but it’s important for your personal well-being — mentally, emotionally, and physically — to actively work on reducing your anxiety and increasing your happiness.
Practice self-care, contribute to your community, look for the good stories, and maybe even spend some time watching cat videos. The world needs you to be positive and healthy, and there are plenty of ways you can do for yourself.
Noah Yarnol Rue is passionate about the environment and doing everything he can to do his part in curbing climate change. When he’s not in his garden, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns about our world. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.