The news of the Paris attacks unfolded last night as I comforted and nursed my baby, each time I woke the death toll had risen. When I looked at Facebook it became increasingly full of status updates where people pondered on what was wrong with the world and how they are afraid. Of course inevitably this fear often leads to Islamaphobic comments which always disturbs me.
Paris is not the first tragedy to rock the world’s social conscious and it won’t be the last. More recently, when the body of Aylan Kurdi was washed up on a Turkish beach, I, along with most of the world looked on in horror. I allowed myself to be so profoundly affected by it that I lost the ability to enjoy my own life. I felt guilt, sadness, fear and heartache.
I recognised that I was not in a good place and I was becoming no use to anyone. I decided to take 4 simple positive steps that I would like to share with you now. If you are struggling with digesting the Paris news I hope it helps.
Do something productive to help the Parisians
I came across a great post this morning offering practical advice on how we can help those in Paris no matter where we are. We often feel helpless in situations like this and when we donate money, things, sign a petition, or volunteer we remind ourselves that we are in fact useful and can contribute to a positive solution. It doesn’t matter how small or big our contribution is, what we can offer will vary depending on our circumstances. It is the action itself that is important.
Additionally, if you share with others how you have helped you may inspire them to do the same and your good deed could start a ripple effect without you even being aware.
Don’t watch the 24 hour news channels to find out about the attacks
I used to watch News 24 a lot but all these news networks do is find new ways to rehash the same negative perspective. In this case you will hear the same frightening story from Paris told 100 different times. Most of the time, they do not tell you the news because there is nothing new to tell. They are masters at sucking us in though and as we get caught in this negative cycle of 24 hour bombardment it drags us down.
To be honest, I try to avoid all visual news. I read the news but unless it’s a specific story I want to see I avoid it like the plague. Not everyone will do this but for me personally I find the images they stay in my mind long after the TV has been turned off.
Be wary of Social Media post a terrorist attack
Do not put a negative status about Paris and do not comment on others, even if it’s to add a positive perspective. You will end up with endless notifications many of which will continue the negative trend.
There are however lots of positive stories that are being shared. This is where you should put your focus. In times of great tragedy we often see the best of the human spirit. A fabulous example of this is Parisians opening their homes to stranded people in Paris and communicating through the medium of Twitter with the hashtag #porteouverte #opendoor This story proves that social media can be a fantastic force for good.
Be present in your life. You are not in Paris.
Don’t forget to be present and grateful for your life. We should count our blessings every day and there is no day more important than today.
My thoughts are with those in Paris today but sometimes the bombardment of negative news can impact on our own well being. Looking after our mental health is not selfish because we can give more to the world when we are in a better place ourselves.