Senseless shootings and acts of terrorism have somehow become so pervasive that there isn’t even time to fully understand and process one before another makes headlines. Summer is supposed to be carefree, but instead, a heaviness of tension and anger has taken over. Whether you’re scared, deeply sad, or extremely pissed off, there’s one feeling that is likely underlying it all: helplessness.
So how do you deal with a problem you can’t fix?
I took this massive question to spiritual master Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has used meditation and yoga to diffuse violence all over the world, including Colombia. It was Shankar who inaugurated the first International Yoga Day at the United Nations in 2015 and at the European Parliament earlier this year.
Here are his tips on three healthy ways to cope with the violent news cycle.
1. Resist the urge to block everything out
The news has gotten so depressing to watch that you might feel the temptation to distance yourself as much as possible from it, pretending like it just isn’t happening. But ultimately, says Shankar, this won’t make you feel better.
“We need to keep our sensitivity so we don’t become immune to it—this is very important,” he emphasizes. Educating yourself about what is happening will give you a sense of power, because it is powerful in that it’s the first step towards change.
2. Do something proactive
“What is needed today is togetherness,” Shankar stresses. “Do what you can to engage in an activity that promotes peace, multicultural education, or multi-religion education. We need to take proactive steps to spread happiness—this is vital.”
So whether it’s attending a peace rally, creating art, or going to a local discussion group, Shankar says actionable steps not only help you as an individual, but can have a ripple effect on a wider audience as well.
3. Take a breath
If you’re watching the news and suddenly feel overwhelmed—or if recent headlines have made you fear for your own life—Shankar recommends taking a few deep breaths and doing some yoga poses that activate your core, which is where the body holds stress and anxiety.
“Do some forward and backward bending, or a sun salutation,” he says. “Sit back and take a couple deep breaths. This will definitely help control anxiety and fear.”