Maintaining sanity in a stressed environment

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Here we are a few days after the big earthquake. Things are grim up north as the death toll rises and tense as nuclear plants struggle to cool their reactors. 

Around Tokyo we have power shortages with schedule blackouts and a there's good likelihood of another earthquake that we'll feel strongly in the next couple of days. Things are safe but uncertain. Shops have been emptied of food and water. People are stressed and panicking.

But panic and stress don't make the situation better. In fact, they make you less prepared to handle things as they come. Yes, we might have another earthquake. There could be a meltdown (or another one). But does worrying about it change anything? No. It makes you too tired to respond wisely. It makes you crazy after a while.

So what can you do to stay sane? Here's my advice:

  • Be informed and check trusted local news sources a few times a day. Do not rely on entirely on foreign news agencies - they are not always up-to-date or detailed.
  • Take all news with a grain of salt. Have they sensationalised the situation or are they giving facts?
  • Turn off the TV/computer/radio. A constant stream of information, conflicting opinions, rumours, old news and scare mongering is only going to make you anxious. A few hours away from Facebook really isn't going to hurt you. I promise.
  • Prepare for contingencies - emergency food, communication, meeting points, etc - and then trust your preparations to carry you through as needed.
  • Donate. Money and blood are the most urgently required things and giving one or the other will help you feel useful and actually help people in need.
  • Exercise. Moving your body busts stress like anything. Make sure that you don't slack on your exercise routine. If you don't have a routine, join a friend at the gym, at a hoop jam, or on the yoga mat. 
  • Eat well. As much as it seems thematically appropriate to eat cup ramen in emergencies, you're better off with a well-balanced meal. Get your vegetables, fruits and grains. Don't drink to excess.
  • Sleep. It can be challenging if the bed is shaking in a tremor, but do your best to sleep soundly.
  • Connect face-to-face with friends. Hear their stories. Share yours. Discuss events. Have a beer. Laugh. Make plans for next week.
  • Write it out. Journal your days - write your experiences, worries and concerns. Putting it down on paper (real or digital) gives you a chance to uncover some things you hadn't considered. If you are an artistic soul, add drawings, photos, etc to your journal.
  • Make a quiet space. Maybe it's by listening to music or meditating, getting a massage or taking a hot shower. Quiet will help to slow your brain and relax your body.
  • Go outside. It's spring and the days are lovely. Fresh air and the scent of plum blossoms will clear your head and energise your body.
  • Keep your space tidy. While you worry over events you can't control, it seems inconsequential to clean your apartment. And yet a room in disarray does nothing to keep your mind calm. Put away clutter, dust, wipe some surfaces to feel more grounded.
The less anxious you can be, the more likely you'll survive these interesting times with your sanity intact.

1 Comment

Reading your info is beautiful. Our thoughts & prayers are with you and Todd. See you later in the year

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