The lyrics in Don’t McLeans’ song, American Pie, sure hit home, don’t they?
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
If the headlines increase your benzo withdrawal symptoms, here are some suggestions on coping.
The first coping skill is pretty obvious— avoid the news. Sure, it was easier back in the day; you could step over the newspaper on your porch. You could control what you watched on television. It’s different today. The news is everywhere, even streaming at some gas pumps! Do your best to limit your exposure. You can’t do anything about Russia, the stock market, or covid, so why expose yourself to information that can jack up your nervous system?
Set boundaries. Let people know that you don’t want to talk about the news. Ask them not to share the events of the day or their worries with you.
If you can’t avoid the news, do your best to minimize its impact on your nervous system. If you feel anxious, slow down your breathing. Rock side-to-side gently. Remind yourself that you are safe in this present moment. If your mind races with those scary “what if” thoughts, gently bring your attention back to this moment. Future tripping makes us more anxious.
Distraction is an excellent tool for coping with the news. Put your hands to use. Activities that require fine motor skills are wonderful ways to soothe a worried mind. (Grandma’s quilting circle knew a thing or two about calming anxiety!)
Learn something new! Learning feels good; it releases dopamine. It takes the focus off of our symptoms, worries, and woes and puts it on what we are learning.
Practice acceptance. You can’t change the way the world is; you can only change how you respond to it. Your initial reaction may be anxiety or fear; that’s normal in benzo withdrawal. It’s how you respond to that reaction that counts. Do you believe your scary thoughts and feelings, or do you neutrally observe them and let them pass?
If you are triggered by the news and feel you need help, reach out to others. Ask for support. A gentle hug or a kind, compassionate listening ear go a long way to calming down anxiety.
Remember that the prescription for everything is safety. There is no threat. There is only the perception of a threat. You are safe.
One helpful thing is to look back and know that we always find our way out of the darkness. It passes. Always. The storm clouds forming in the world will one day dissipate, and the sun will shine and warm us all again. Good times will return.
Breathe. It’s all going to be okay. Focus on your healing, not on things you cannot control. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
If you have other ways you cope with the news, please share in the comments. Let’s help one another in these unsettling times.
If you need support, you may want to consider joining my live support group, Mornings With Jenn. We meet on Discord. Recorded group sessions are posted on Facebook. There is no other benzo support group quite like it! Movie night, radio station, topics, video, voice, and text communication abilities. It’s an incredibly positive place.
Click here for more information: Mornings With Jenn