Yes, the World Feels Like It’s Imploding. Here Are 5 Ways to Protect Yourself While Also Making a Difference

world feels like its imploding cat

The events of the last few weeks are enough to give you emotional whiplash: In between Ukraine and the pandemic, we’ve been pummeled with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the shootings in Uvalde and Highland Park (which come on the heels of Buffalo and the staggering statistics about gun violence in the U.S.), harrowing reports on climate change and, well, the list goes on.

It’s enough to make you want to crumple into a ball and never get up. And yet, as overwhelmed and helpless as you may feel, there are ways to practice self-care and make a difference. Here’s where to start.

1. First, Let Go of the Idea That You Should Be Ashamed of Your Own Happiness

The world feels increasingly dark these days, but repeat after Dr. Lea Lis, a family psychiatrist based in New York: Feeling happy when there is uncertainty in the world is not a guilt you need to take on. In other words, it’s OK to prioritize your own joy during difficult times. Happiness—the authentic, non-toxic kind—is powerful and contagious. And it generates light when everything around you feels dark. For example, a kind interaction with a neighbor; a playful moment with your kids—it’s empowering and OK to appreciate even if you’re simultaneously aware of others’ pain and hardship.

2. Next, Modify Your News Consumption Habits

We’re not telling you to ignore the news. (In fact, it’s critical that you tune in.) But do try to protect yourself from fearmongering. Lis says, “Try not to obsessively watch or read, since a lot of it is clickbait and can generate so much negative energy.” A better approach: Turn off notifications and take control back in terms of when and where you read the headlines. For example, maybe you’re a read-the-newspaper-over-coffee kind of gal; or you prefer to check in midway through the day. Getting wrenched out of the moment with an alert on your phone can cause you to spiral unproductively. Instead, set a time limit and be more mindful of your consumption.

3. Pick a Cause and React (and Read) Constructively

With so many things to worry about, it can be hard to know where to start. But per Christen Brandt, co-founder of She’s the First, a non-profit fighting for girls’ rights worldwide and co-author of Impact: A Step-by-Step Plan to Create the World You Want to Live In, the best place to start is with one single cause. “If it’s your North Star, you won’t burn out on it,” she explains. “Talk to people in your community, read news articles, listen to podcasts, understand what’s causing the issue in the first place,” she advises. “Make learning a part of your personal impact plan and you’ll find inspiration for more action along the way.”

4. Small Actions Aren’t Performative—They Can Be Inspiring

Of course you are just one person, but the worst action you can take is doing nothing. “Small actions often inspire other people you know to get involved and there’s a ripple effect that multiplies your impact,” Tammy Tibbetts, CEO and co-founder of She’s the First and Brandt’s co-author, adds. “For example, your contributions to the community fridge in your area can inspire your neighbors to drop off meals; your $10 to a fundraiser on Instagram can inspire someone else who follows you to also give.” Tibbetts and Brandt recommend writing your commitments down on a piece of paper (in their book, this is part of creating a personal Impact Plan) and outline the actions you plan to take, small and large, such as running a race for a cause or hosting a fundraiser. Then, keep tabs on your progress and celebrate your personal milestones for a mood boost.

5. You Don’t Have to Be on the “Front Lines” to Make a Difference

Remember, the weight of the world isn’t on your shoulders. “If you instead see yourself as part of a collective, as part of a movement in which you play one small part, you will value the contributions of everyone around you more,” Tibbetts says. After all, those leading the charge can’t succeed without you and others like you. “I always feel happier when I think about the community who shares my impact goals; I feel less alone and far more powerful,” Tibbetts explains. She recommends spending time with members of this community—either in person or virtually through videos and webinars hosted by your favorite nonprofits. “Those people and experiences always replace my fears with immense hope.” More than anything, it’s a place to start.

If You’d Like to Devote 10 Minutes To…

Abortion Rights
Protests are happening everywhere right now (We Won’t Go Back is a terrific resource for finding local ones you can join) or you can make a donation to an org on the front line like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU or the Lilith Fund.

Gun Control
Again, joining a local protest is a productive way to make sure your voice is heard. (Moms Demand Action is a great resource for details on when and where protests and walks are taking place across the U.S.) You can also donate to Everytown, the largest gun violence prevention organization in America. (The website has an “Issues” section that shares valuable info about the impact of guns on communities along with ways to prevent gun violence.)

Climate Change
On the volunteer front, Citizens Climate Lobby is a really active network of people dedicated to protecting the environment through national policies. You can also follow non-profits like the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and Environment America on social media to learn and keep up with climate-related news and action items. (You can make donations to all of these orgs.)

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Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...