Staying optimistic in a turbulent time
At times like this, when we are anxious and worried, it is especially important to find ways to stay optimistic, said Dayle Lawrence, MSW, LICSW, director of clinical services overseeing the two Cape Cod Healthcare outpatient behavioral health clinics.
Lawrence, who has lived on the Cape since she was 10, turns to nature as a nurturing wellspring when the world feels burdensome.
“When I go outside to unwind, I try to still my mind and really just see what is in front of me,” she said.
Lawrence offered four tips for keeping bad news in perspective:
Connect with Nature
“Connecting with nature is great for de-stressing and taking care of yourself,” Lawrence said. Our region’s natural beauty – a patchwork of beaches, woods, fields, and open sky – can be very nurturing, she said.
Limit Exposure to News
While staying informed is important, Lawrence said exposure to news cycles should be limited.
“Watching news events over and over can be very traumatizing, especially for people who have trauma in their histories,” she said. It can be especially negative for children, “who may develop questions about their own safety in the world.”
At bedtime, take a break from disturbing news. “Before bed, you should be settling down and calming yourself,” Lawrence said.
Find Your Own Toolkit to Unplug
Identify tools that help you relax. Lawrence relaxes with a good novel. For others, the answer may be meditation, music, or a walk on the beach. It’s important to know what helps you calm your thoughts, she said. Almost 50 percent of Americans turn to music to help them feel better, she adds.
“Be thoughtful about it,” she said. “Disconnect from electronics and just be with yourself.” And be thoughtful about what you commit to, she added.
Being in the present moment and recognizing the people and things that enrich your life can change the way you look at things – and even change brain chemistry – Lawrence said.
“It’s a way of turning off what you’re thinking about,” she said. “Negative attitudes are self-propelling.”
If you find yourself obsessing about events, clearly picture a mental stop sign. Then think of something you’re grateful for and name it, Lawrence said. “Say it out loud.”