by Christy Gualtieri
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. NFL players are sporting pink gloves and shoes on the field, department stores are selling kitchen towels emblazoned with ribbons, bakeries are selling pink-ribbon cookies, and the makers of 5-Hour Energy Drink have their own limited-edition pink bottles to raise funds for women suffering from the disease.
October is also Down Syndrome Awareness month, Spina Bifida Awareness month, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, National CyberSecurity Awareness month, and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
There’s more, too: the list goes on, and on. You may also be aware of some trouble in Eastern Europe, riots in a Missouri town, a certain terrorist group carrying out heinous acts of violence in the Middle East, and the Ebola virus making an intercontinental appearance.
It’s hard not to be aware. In fact, we might be too aware – and it may be wearing you out. Here are five ways to take care of ourselves so we don’t get so caught up in the awareness that we just end up just plain apathetic.
- Just the Facts, Ma’am
Although print newspapers aren’t read nearly as much by folks who’d rather get their news online, there might be a benefit to just sticking with the paper variety. Most newspapers carry an opinion page, but they’re pretty limited – on the internet, opinions go on forever, and many masquerade as “news”, raising your annoyance and anger levels. Try to stick to non-opinionated, strictly factual news sites and papers – you may find your blood pressure will thank you for it!
- Turn It Off
The human brain is incredibly capable, but there’s only so much it can take. When you find your stress levels rising, or your anxiety creeping up because of what you’re hearing is going on in the world, be kind to yourself and turn it off for a little while. Turn off the nightly news, close the web browser, and let your brain relax and your emotions settle.
- Get Fresh Air
Try to get fresh air as soon as possible. If you’re at work, take a quick break for a quick walk around the building or down the street. If you’re at home, take a second to slip out the back door and breathe in the air. Doing so will help you get away from the bad news and focus on the good news that your lungs are working and our air is clean! That’s something to be thankful for.
- Narrow Your Circle
With the devices and the electronics off, look around your space. Take in the quiet, and remind yourself of where you are. It’s easy for us, when we are so immersed in current events, to think we’re there too – but we’re not. If you need to, try some grounding exercises (counting to ten slowly, picturing a STOP sign in your mind), or physically touch the objects around you to remind you that where you are is safe and you are in control.
- Widen Your Circle
When you’re ready, think about a cause or two that is closest to your heart. If you really feel as though you want to help spread that cause’s message, try posting about it to Facebook or another social site. If you want to go further, try donating some time or financial resources. There is nothing wrong with raising awareness for an issue, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with donating your time and energy to a cause. Just check in with yourself every once in a while to make sure you’re taking care of yourself so you can continue to fight the good fight!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at openthoseojos.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117.
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