The news of apocalyptic bushfires, soaring temperatures, drought-stricken towns and countryside, decimated wildlife, loss of life and habitat is increasing in its severity. It’s only natural that anyone exposed to both the reality and the stories and images presented so horrifyingly in the media will feel distraught. What can we do? How can we protect ourselves and our families from falling into a depressive slump when faced with the harsh reality?
Acknowledge the situation
First, acknowledge the severity of the situation. Wherever we are or however impotent we feel, recognizing what’s happening is our first step to providing relief. Acknowledgment can help us on the path to take action.
Both self-compassion and compassion for others are crucial at this time. Not everyone will feel the way we do and we need to understand that others can have different views and often be in denial. Let’s try and meet them where they’re at. Be kind to others and ourselves in this difficult time in whatever way we can. Self-care is paramount.
Consider your values
What do you want to stand for at this time? Reflect and remind yourself of what’s important to you. What really matters in your life? Is it around providing care and security for your family? Care for the environment or wildlife? Is it about advocating for others less fortunate? Or being adventurous and taking action? Your values are as individual as you are. There’s no right or wrong. You can hold several values concurrently with one or two being prioritised as needed.
When you are clear on what matters to you, consider what you can do to take action. Research the local groups in your area to find if you can contribute to making a trauma teddy, feed or care for wildlife, donate or raise funds or volunteer for one of the many active groups responding to the disasters. There are lots of options out there.
Whatever you do, remind yourself that you are prioritising and acting in a way that you can be proud of. Focus on what is within your control and try not to get caught up in things that are beyond your control.
You’ve taken action in a way that supports what you really care about. Now can you continue to act in a way that supports what matters to you on a daily and moment-by-moment basis? It’s easy for our minds to get caught up in catastrophising. Can you drop the struggle with difficult thoughts and focus on what’s in front of you? Bring your attention to your current activities. How does what you’re doing right now support your values? If caring for your family is one of your values, get on with caring for them now rather than focus on the news. Whenever your mind gets caught up back in the news cycle gently bring it back to what’s here in front of you now. It’s not easy but practice will help.
The news cycle will continue to scare many of us. Each time you feel yourself falling into fear, gently follow these steps. The current situation is depressing. If we can provide some moments of compassion and relief it will help create some hope.
For those affected by the fires that are ravaging our beautiful country, AAPi is partnering with VirtualPsychologist to promote a free text message counselling service to Rural and Remote Australians.
• Free text-based mental health service (24/7) for rural and remote community members in need of emotional assistance
• Confidential, easy-to-access, and immediate help during these distressing times
• Assistance when you need it most!
It only takes one text to change a life.
Let’s connect! TexT 0488 807 266 (TexT Line OnLy)
This Federally-funded initiative provides Mental Health Services to Rural and Remote Communities in Australia. (You will need to provide some qualifying information.)