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by Maureen Pollard,

Emotional Health Editor

Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a private practice in Cobourg,
Ontario.  Visit her online at:

Photo by  NASA 

"Change is constant and everything shifts in time. What goes up must come down, and the wheel is always turning to move us through cycles of experience in life."

There are times when everything in our life and in the world feels very heavy and dark. In troubled times, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. This is a natural cycle for humans, in part because our species wreaks havoc and creates terrible circumstances. It’s also true that our brains are designed to focus on scanning for danger and threats, so we notice all the negatives. 

This tendency is critical for our survival. When we notice a threat we can defend against it, protecting ourselves and our kin and ensuring we live on for another day. However, it can feel like a crushing weight, immobilizing us anxiety, depression, and a sense of helplessness.

There are some strategies that can help us when all the news seems awful, and we’re not sure what to do.

Accept that this is a difficult time. Humans experience pain and suffering as part of life, and it is natural to feel sensitive at these times. As a human, you can’t avoid feeling this way sometimes. Allow yourself to feel your full range of feelings, including fear, pain, sadness, and anger. Find safe ways to vent these feelings by talking to someone you trust, or journalling about what’s on your mind.

Be gentle and accommodating. When times are tough, we are still doing the best we can, even though we may not achieve the outcomes we hope for due to the difficult circumstances. It’s okay to give yourself a break. If you find your inner critic’s voice harsh and reminding you of the things you “should” do, give it a time out and then give your inner cheerleader a megaphone so you can more easily hear that supportive voice reminding you that you have survived difficult times before and you can do this, too.

Find your ease. Take small steps that bring you a bit of comfort even when difficulties are on-going. Make a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate. Take a hot shower. Snuggle up with your person or a pet. Play your favourite music and sing along. These things won’t solve the problems, but you’ll feel just a bit better as you move through the challenges. 

Find ways to connect with and support others. Small gestures such as text to check-in on family and friends can brighten their day and give you a sense of belonging. Sending a handwritten thank you card or note to say hello - written with colourful ink and maybe some stickers – will take a little more energy but offers a real boost as you create it and when the recipient opens it!

Remember, this will pass. Change is constant and everything shifts in time. What goes up must come down, and the wheel is always turning to move us through cycles of experience in life. In life there is darkness and there is light. When we remember that everything is temporary, it can help us hold hope through difficult times. 

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