By Cynthia Hovis, MSW, LCSW
The St. Louis community, the country and the world are facing many growing pains of change. These growing pains can come in the form of grieving, aching for peace, justice, healing, humanity, acceptance, unity, compassion, integrity, security and more. The constant barrage of negativity in the news, political turmoil, community unrest, violence and trauma of the past year have left their mark in many ways, some positive and many negative, with outcomes yet unknown. We can all agree that change is in the air and regardless of your role or views, recent events have impacted the lives of all in this area and beyond. The ongoing tension has been woven throughout our work, our homes, our conversations, our thoughts.
Grief, sadness, anger, passion, hope and fear can all be natural responses to change as well as crisis and loss and can be expressed in many ways, some healthy and some not. So, what are we to do now? How do you handle this ongoing stress? How do you process all that has happened and is happening in the world and how it has impacted or will impact you personally? What are you doing to take good care of yourself?
Please take a moment to think about your overall well-being: your physical health, your mental health, your spiritual health. How are you really doing?
- Are you eating a healthy variety of foods? Are you getting enough rest/as many hours of sleep as you need? Are you exercising regularly?
- Do you have someone you trust to talk to (friends, family, mental health professional, spiritual leader)?
- Do you have regular schedules and routines?
- Are you able to enjoy yourself and have fun?
Take another moment to assess those answers and consider what is working for you and what is not. It can be discouraging to focus on the negatives of things we “shouldn’t do.”
So list the things you can add to your life for improvement such as getting extra rest, drinking more water, eating a healthy snack, calling a friend, volunteering or limiting time on social media. Remember that there is a difference between being informed and being overwhelmed by news and media.
Your health and well-being start with you. Finding your own peace in the midst of the chaos of life is essential to keeping your energy and ability to focus on the activities and responsibilities of daily living. As individuals, we need to start with ourselves and then work our way out to make the changes we wish to see in our lives, our community and our world. We have to begin by taking care of ourselves and treating others with respect and dignity -- the way we wish to be treated.