by Pam

How to deal with difficult news

March 24, 2020 | Dealing with Difficulties

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Life can feel a bit upside-down during all the stay-at-home and self-quarantines directions. If you’re like me, not only are you distanced from family and friends, it seems like every time you get a news update things have just gotten worse.

As our country scrambles to meet the medical, health, and economic needs of people during Covid-19, it’s also very important for us to know how to process difficult news. Here is a simple plan to help develop resilience while everything around you appears to be falling apart.


First, I’d suggest having a schedule for how often you’ll check the news. Perhaps 2-4x a day, but no more than is truly necessary. For most people, it won’t matter if you get the most immediate update. Fewer interruptions will reduce stress, so be sure to turn off notifications from your news feeds. You’ll be able to get all the latest updates on your schedule. In the meantime, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters—your family, your work, your play, etc.

Then, when you get the news, practice a process I’m calling EMOJI. (Okay…yes, it’s a bit dorky but hopefully, it will be easy to remember!) This will only take about 5 minutes.

E: Experience. What is your immediate experience?

  • Find your ground. Feel your feet on the earth, your body in its chair, etc. Really feel into what is beneath you and how it contacts your body, supporting it.
  • Feel your body as you breathe three breaths.
  • Ask yourself these three questions:
    • What am I experiencing right now? (in your body, your mood, your thoughts)
    • How am I relating to it? (am I allowing that it’s happening? am I resisting?)
    • What can I do? (a wise, kind response for your needs)
  • Notice how you feel now after going through these three questions. How has it changed in your body, your feelings?

M: Move. Do something physical. It doesn’t have to be a big effort, but any kind of physical activity—even a small action based on your freedom to choose and control—will help your brain to balance out some of that cortisol that’s just been released. Perhaps stand up and take a big breath. Change seats. Walk in and out of the room. Hug a baby. Walk barefoot on the grass.

O: Open your heart to compassion. Send love to those involved, however that works for you. It may be a prayer or well wishes. For example: May they heal quickly; May they be comforted; May they walk in wisdom; May they feel supported; May they find inner strength, etc.

J: Joy. Find something right now, in this moment, that you’re thankful for. Allow gratitude and appreciation for something real in your life to help heal some of the wounding that’s just been created. Spend 10 seconds just feeling that gratitude. Bonus points for finding something different to be grateful for each time.

I: Interact. It’s easy to feel isolated when—well, we’re self-quarantined—but also when we’re nervous, anxious, or fearful. If possible, try to find a way to have video connections with people who love and support you daily and can meaningfully remind you that you are not alone. If you don’t have a support group already, the Facebook groups of Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness and A Mindful Society offer free meditation practice groups during the pandemic.

I hope you find these tips helpful. They are based on science and really work. Over time, you will build on your natural resilience.

About the author, Pam

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