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  • Writer's pictureAlisha MacIsaac

Managing day-to-day stress when it feels like the world is on fire

By: Alisha MacIsaac - BSc, MACP, CCC


In recent discussions with friends, colleagues, and clients, everywhere we look, it has become undeniable that world events are having an increasing impact on how we live our daily lives. Whether locally or globally, we are constantly exposed to difficult realities that we often feel helpless to fix, or powerless to change. This can have a significant toll on our mental health and ability to cope with daily stressors. 


Now this may seem obvious - of course it has an impact. But why is this important? We have always had to navigate our lives through these events - be that war, political or social unrest, global pandemics, natural disasters, or changing rights and freedoms. So why should we be paying more attention to how this is affecting us now? 


Because now, we have access to information unlike any other time in history. While modern living affords us many benefits, there are also challenges we face as we adjust to rapid technological and scientific advancements. It has become the norm to spend large portions of our days engaging in screen use and consuming information and content, whether personally or professionally. As a result we are constantly inundated with news, images and videos of difficult subject matter. It is hard to flick through channels, open TikTok or Instagram, or drive behind someone on the highway without seeing a headline, video, sticker or comment about the state of politics, global atrocities and genocides, human rights, or even the small daily cruelties and injustices that prior to social media would have gone unacknowledged.


Sometimes it can feel like the world is on fire - and in the midst of this, we are managing the daily stress of bills, chores, family stress, health challenges, and the myriad of other things that we are constantly juggling. With unprecedented and often unfiltered access to this type of information, thoughts and worries can quickly become an overwhelming part of our daily realities. Although it can feel difficult at times, finding ways to navigate these issues while taking care of your own needs is important.


One of the ways we can adjust our relationship with difficult topics or events is to set boundaries around when, how, and with who you will engage with this content. This can allow us to interact with these issues in a way that adds value and meaning to your life rather than creating more distress. 


When do you see this information? 


To avoid being constantly updated by content or events that may be difficult or distressing, choose when you engage with the people, accounts, channels or podcasts that cover these materials. For example, my passion for animal rights has led me to follow several rescues and organizations through social media. I often donate and attend events in support of causes. However, last year, I began noticing an increase of content around at-risk animals. This also led to an increase in my own thoughts becoming consumed, heightened emotions, and wanting to save and adopt when I did not have the means to do so. I became aware of the boundaries I needed to set, and began muting posts and stories and choosing set times where I had the capacity to engage and boost posts. This allowed me to acknowledge the realities, while also holding space for myself. 


How do you engage with this information? 


Do you watch the news every night? 

It could be beneficial to adjust that schedule to once or twice a week. Use time instead to look up positive events or engage in self care activities.


Do you find your friends or colleagues often ruminate on these types of issues? 

Finding ways to set a boundary through means such as: changing the subject, requesting a break or choosing to walk away are respectful options that allow you to determine how much you engage with these issues and when. It is ok if you don’t always have the energy or capacity for those conversations.  


Do you follow accounts that regularly post about difficult topics that increase your distress? 

Limit exposure to these accounts, mute posts or comments, or unfollow them. You can re-engage or find other ways to interact with and support issues of your choice when you are able to.


Are you unsure what information is accurate and how to filter the facts from the opinions and things you are hearing? 

Find reputable sources for information. This can be difficult, because many creators, news outlets and research studies can be biased based on who is funding and who is reporting the information. To help with this, we have compiled a list of topics and reputable resources for each that can serve as a starting point to learn about or engage with these issues on your own terms. Our hope is for this to be a document that we can continue to add to, so if you have recommendations for causes or resources that you think would benefit our readers then please leave a comment!


Are you feeling pressured to comment, post, donate or acknowledge certain events? 

You are allowed to decide what you post, share, speak about and share your resources towards. It can be important for people with a platform or with a business to address certain topics, but even then it is critical to understand that we can’t do it all. It can be helpful to reflect on what causes or issues mean the most to you, and determine what it would look like for you to engage with those issues in a way that is authentic and realistic for you.


With who do you discuss these topics?  


It can be helpful to identify people in your life, whether friends, family, colleagues or online communities, that provide a space where you feel comfortable to explore, learn and reflect on bigger world issues at your own time and pace. Be mindful that this does not mean connecting with people that only have the same opinions as you, as different experiences shape our leaning and understanding. Similarly, identify the people who do not make you feel comfortable exploring these topics. Coming up with phrases ahead of time to use when these people address topics that you do not wish to discuss can reduce stress in the moment, as can having in mind how you might leave or end a conversation with these people in a way that feels safe. 



Reminder* 

It is normal to feel overwhelmed trying to manage everything at once. If you are looking for support navigating a challenge similar to this or want to learn more about how to put these strategies into practice, please consider reaching out to arrange a session with one of our professionals. 



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