Navigating DespairJan 12, 2024
As health care practitioners, we bear witness to the physical, emotional, and psychic pain that our patients experience.
Many of our patients are navigating despair and overwhelm as they attempt to make sense of a world that seems to be spiraling out of control.
As we enter the new year, our treatment rooms are holding the bombings and tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza, rising authoritarianism and violence around the globe, increasing hate crimes, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and intolerance in this country, mass shootings that happen so often they barely create a news response, the global suffering of humans and other creatures due to climate change, and much more.
How do you find meaning and purpose when you feel out of control and helpless? There is, of course, no simple answer.
But you can find strength and solace in the basics. Your fundamental self-care practices are your lifeline when you are overwhelmed or at risk of unraveling. Despair can lead you away from yourself, allow your routines to draw you back to yourself, to your center.
In times like these, I think of tending to myself as I would a child: stick to routines, eat regular meals, take a walk, seek comfort, and go to bed early.
Recognize your sphere of influence. Most of us do not make decisions at the national or global level. But we make daily decisions within our sphere of influence: our family, friends, work colleagues, our community. We make decisions about how to spend our time, our energy, our money. We decide how to show up, what words we use, and what energy we broadcast into the world. You have agency in this realm. Notice and be choiceful.
Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with others.
Kirstin Lindquist, Owner