Q: Horrifying events can inundate our minds when we are constantly tuned in to a 24-hour news cycle. How can a Christian stay mentally and emotionally healthy in a day when media constantly bombards us with sights, sounds and images of violence?
A: As Christian writer Anne Lamott has said, everything functions better when unplugged for a while. Find ways to step away, turn media off, and unplug.
Go on a “news fast” and extend that to all media and screens. Avoid the sensory overload that can easily happen in our often violent, ever-changing world. Remember the words of Paul in Philippians: “Whatsoever things are lovely … of good report … think on these things.”
Your brain literally needs times of rest. Contemplate and meditate on the goodness of God. Take a walk in nature. Sit out among the flowers and trees, sunsets and stars. God is bigger than whatever is happening in the world.
Practice good self-care. If we’re not careful, a violent event half a world away can draw us in as if it were a tornado or hurricane headed straight for our own zip code. In such a circumstance, we can find ourselves building our lives around that tragedy and neglect our own. Before we know it, we’re not eating right, sleeping well, or getting enough exercise.
You do no one any good by neglecting care of the self. “Love your neighbor as yourself” assumes you will take care of your basic needs. You become a better vessel for the Spirit to use as the hands and feet of Christ in this world when you practice good health habits.
You may be going through your own traumatic, life-altering events such as death, divorce, unemployment or similar dislocation. Keep up your support system. Call in the help of a good therapist. Take a deep breath. Walk your dog. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Ask a good friend to meet for coffee.
Take positive action. Remember, prayer is an action. Again, Paul to the Philippians: “Pray about everything, and the peace of God that passes all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Find ways to give. Research which agencies combine effective work “on the ground” with Christian integrity. Give over and above your regular offerings. Donate blood.