Coping With Everyday Stressors
By: Lauren Keating
During the depths of the winter season, the days are cold and dreary. The gloomy mood combined with coming off the rush of the holidays can leave us feeling like we’re running on empty.
“After the holidays, sometimes there’s a sadness, after a special event because of ‘what now’,” said Dr. Robi Ludwig, an acclaimed New York-based psychotherapist. “It’s really important for people to allow themselves to have that feeling and then to ask themselves what can they do to make themselves feel a little better. And then to do that, do that one thing.”
Connect with loved ones to ease loneliness, or engage with a charity to give to others. This act can be fulfilling and change the mindset, making us feel good about ourselves for bringing happiness to others.
“It’s just an excellent reminder that we have something to offer and that we can impact somebody’s life,” Dr. Ludwig said.
With outside stressors from family, work, the news, and political issues, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The following are ways to cope with various stresses in our lives to ensure our mental health is good in the new year.
After the holidays, people often find themselves in some financial trouble. This, combined with inflation and higher prices on everything from groceries to gas, can make it hard to dig out of some winter debt.
“If you’re feeling stressed with money, a lot has to do with how much you spend, right? So to set a budget for yourself and be very deliberate, make sure that you’re not engaging in impulse buys,” said Dr. Ludwig.
She also recommends sorting through closets to eliminate the old, making room for the new, and selling items on various marketplaces to earn extra cash. Scale back spending on certain things, such as take-out, and make sure to prioritize bills.
Watching The News
It was easy to keep the news on during the pandemic, but this resulted in constant fear and exposure to tragic stories. From war to politics to everyday crime, we are constantly informed about depressing news—even seeing it on social media.
“I think we need to give ourselves permission to look away from the news for a period of time because if it bleeds, it leads,” Dr. Ludwig said. “These stories, especially now they’re very politicized, people have very strong feelings about them, and it really can get people to feel isolated, angry, hated, or misunderstood.”
Some may feel relief from deleting certain social media apps or changing the way we stay informed, such as reading the newspaper, instead of learning to stay updated on current world affairs on social media. Set a time limit when consuming news to be able to walk away and not be constantly bombarded with stress and anxiety regarding world affairs.
The Israel -Palestine War
Wartime can wreak havoc on mental health, especially the current war, which is a hot-button issue. People are divided and affected on a personal level, which can cause tension to rise.
“Sometimes there needs to be a space for people not to be on the same page,” Dr. Ludwig said. “Maybe not to agree and just respect where the other person is coming from.”
There was once a time when people wouldn’t discuss politics or religion at gatherings. Setting the boundary of having the topic off the table for events is a good idea not to cause arguments.
Instead, Dr. Ludwig said to reach out to those with similar viewpoints when looking for support. If you are still determining where someone stands on the issue, refrain from the topic because it can create a lot of pain and could be destructive to friendships.
“If I have a sense, somebody is not getting my perspective. I almost don’t want to go there because I know as a therapist you’re not changing anyone’s mind; you’re just simply not,” she said. “And there’s always so many different perspectives.”
Dealing with Anti-Semitism and Racism
Because of the current war, many might be facing discrimination firsthand.
“Xenophobia is probably natural to our state in terms of trusting our own group versus another,” Dr. Ludwig said. “And that’s very primal because in general, there was a sense that you’re safer within your group than outside of your group.”
However, she said it’s best to educate people and be open to being educated when possible. It’s great to share your feelings or ideas and then move on. Sensitivity and awareness can “help with those automatic tendencies to demonize or judge another group unfairly.”
Consider how much discrimination is seen on the news or on social media and what a person is experiencing in their everyday life.
“Consider that there’s a difference,” Dr. Ludwig. “You can share your truth with people who are open to hearing about it. And I think we all need to understand our kind of primal tribalism and educate ourselves to open our minds.”