Here Are Some Things You Can Control in an Out-of-Control World
by Daisy Luther
It seems like lately, all the news is bad news and every day we’re losing more autonomy over our lives. 2020 has been “interesting” so far, to put it mildly. When the world seems so completely out of control, it’s important to get a handle on the things you can.
Focus on small circles.
This is advice straight from Selco.
Operate in “small circles” (your family, prepper group, network of friends). Learn useful skills, meet good and interesting people (in prepper terms).
That small circle is what it is all about and what is important when SHTF. Sorry, but your political opinion and worries about state policies are worthless, and can not change anything big- it is the big circle, and it is important only in terms of looking and recognizing signs of future events, so you may recognize the correct moment for bugging out for example.
Do not be pulled into general fear and hate because it clouds your judgment and it simply wastes your time.
Do not be pulled into it. (source)
And of course, he’s right. This isn’t Selco’s first SHTF rodeo. While it’s important to stay informed, your influence on a grand scale is pretty limited. You can’t personally change the way the government is handling the virus. You can only adapt your response to theirs. If you disagree with the handling, you may have choices to make – like bugging out, getting out of their scope of influence, or staying under the radar. But you probably can’t change the policies themselves.
So while everybody else is getting worked up about yet another misstep during a White House press conference, the campaign of Creepy Uncle Joe, and quarantines, take the information you need to make decisions and then disregard the rest of it. It’s not worth your time. It’s better to spend your energy on making things better within your small circle.
Work on your budget.
Take a look at your current income and then adapt your budget to fit it. I’m not talking about the income you made Before. (At this point, I think Before is a term that needs to be capitalized.)
I’m talking about what you’re bringing in right now. Sure, we all hope to walk right back into our former positions and put this all behind us, but I think that is very unlikely – and more so the longer the economy stays shut down. Our country is in real economic trouble and I don’t foresee it improving or “going back to normal” any time soon.
So it’s important to work with what is true right now – not what was true or what you hope will be true tomorrow.
Can you afford your bills on your current income while living your current lifestyle? Do an audit of your finances and make adjustments as necessary.
- If you can’t pay your bills on time, see this article for advice on talking to your creditors
- If you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19, see this article for specific suggestions.
- If you can’t pay your bills at all, see this article.
Recognize that you may not come out of this with your credit intact. Try not to worry too much about this because you’ll be in good company. I know it sucks when you’ve spent years building a good credit rating, but in the grand scheme of things, your credit rating is of minimal importance when compared with “do we have enough money for food?” and “can I pay rent this month?” Prioritize the money you have to make the most important choices.
Control how you spend your time.
It’s easy to slip into bad patterns when every day feels like a weekend. For those who still go to work, your normal routine of taking the kids to activities, going out for dinner or a drink, or hitting the gym is no longer an option. For those who are furloughed, your routine is now completely thrown off. For those who are working from home, you’re now trying to take care of your kids, being interrupted by your partner, and conquer your workload.
But…you can control how you spend this time.
Don’t get sucked into all-day marathons of Netflix binge-watching. Don’t spend all day every day in your pajamas. Don’t just sit around eating junk food and bemoaning your fate.
Create a new routine for yourself and adhere to it with discipline. I’ve worked from home for a decade now and for me, a schedule is essential. I also have a work-reward system, for lack of a better term. I get up early, before anyone else in the house, and get the most essential business tasks done first. Then I take a short break for some food and conversation. I do not sit down in front of the television for “just one episode” of whatever we’re streaming. After we eat, I work for a few more hours, and then I attend to household tasks including making dinner. After dinner, and only then, will I stream any shows or movies.
Your daily schedule may look very different but I urge you to get the essential things done first and put off the relaxing part of your day until those tasks are complete.
It can also help to keep part of your previous schedule – get up, have a shower, and get dressed, even if you aren’t going anywhere. Set work hours for adults and school hours for children. And of course, don’t forget to leave some time for fun.
If you aren’t working from home, focus on tasks that make you better prepared. Start some seeds, get your garden ready, organize your supplies, do some canning, and test out equipment to make sure it works in a way that is efficient.
Do everything you can to keep yourself healthy.
- Eat high-quality whole food. Although it’s tough with a limited budget, select whole grains, plenty of protein, and nutritious fruits and vegetables. Here are some suggestions on eating healthfully on a budget.
- Get some exercise. Becoming one with the couch may be tempting but it isn’t going to do your body or your mental health any favors. Just spending time doing tasks around the house or yard at a fast pace with some good music can help keep you active.
- Spend time outdoors. Even if you can only go into your backyard or out on your balcony spending a little bit of time in the fresh air and sunshine is good for your mind and body. If you’re able to in your current circumstances, absorb some vitamin D while out on a hike or walk.
If you have a pre-existing condition, strive to get things under control to the best of your ability. The healthier you are, the more your body will be able to fight off any virus you might come into contact with at some point in the future.
Take care of your mental health, too.
It isn’t just people with pre-existing mental health problems who are struggling right now.
- Try to keep stress to a minimum. I know – much easier said than done these days. Here are some tips on dealing with “doom fatigue” about the coronavirus. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when all the news seems bad.
- Spend some time in meditation or prayer. Whatever your faith or belief system, spend some quiet and reflective time each day connecting to it. This is good for your peace of mind.
- Spend time outdoors. We talked about this above but one thing I’ll add here is that the Vitamin D you absorb being outside is really good for your mental health.
- Don’t dwell on things you can’t control. It’s important to stay informed but that doesn’t mean you need to fall into a pit of existential angst over things that you can’t control. Take note of things but don’t take them on board as your personal burden. Treat these things as points of data to help you make decisions and try to keep yourself separated from it emotionally.
- Focus on gratitude. If at this time you have a roof over your head, utilities running, and food in your kitchen, you are ahead of a lot of folks. Every day, spare a few moments to take stock of the positive things in your life, no matter how big or small they are.
- Do something to help others. While keeping OPSEC in mind do something to help other people. This might mean sending a financial donation to an organization that helps those who are hardest hit, donating to the food bank if you have some food you can spare, grabbing a cup of coffee or a meal for a homeless person, or picking up supplies for a vulnerable neighbor.
- Take joy in the little things. A video of a friend’s baby laughing is all it takes to turn my day around. The spring flowers are coming out where we live. The weather is beautiful. My seedlings are coming along nicely. I have a big stack of books to read. Go back to the simple pleasures in life instead of always looking at the complicated problems.
Your state of mind has a huge effect on your resilience. You need to treat it with the same importance you treat your physical well-being.
Be aware of how you’re consuming information.
First of all, stop thinking that you’re being weak or fragile by being bothered by these horrific events. I’ve seen people commenting that they aren’t “tough” enough to handle all of the awful things we’re being bombarded with by the media.
It has nothing whatsoever to do with toughness, weakness, or fragility. If you are a caring human being, of course these things get to you. It’s natural and, bonus, a sign that you aren’t a sociopath. This isn’t to say that people who can put some mental distance between themselves and the events are unstable – it is just to say that there is nothing wrong or weak about those who are overwhelmed by it.
We all want to be well-informed about the goings-on in the world. That’s why you’re on a preparedness site. That’s why you are paying attention to this. You don’t want to be one of those oblivious, reality TV show aficionados whose form of entertainment actually has nothing to do with reality.
But how do you balance this when you’re feeling horribly beaten down by the things in the news?
- Choose where you get your news. Some news outlets are a lot more brutal than others and seem to take pleasure by posting the most horrific version of every event. Over and over, they show disturbing clips. The headlines shout at you about worst-case scenarios. You can avoid the news outlets that are the most controversial, the ones who stir up the problem to keep the hits coming in, the ones who make insulting, blanket generalizations. Avoid those with obvious bias and stick to the ones that report in a less sensationalistic manner. Reuters is rather dry but they tend to be a little bit less blatantly biased. You can often get a good idea of what’s going on in the world by simply scanning the headlines on their homepage. Check out their service, The Wire, too.
- Avoid the comments section. Unless you want to see the worst of humanity, avoid the comments section of major news outlets. In most of them, you’ll be besieged by laptop warriors who spew hatred and ill-conceived 30-second “solutions” for complicated issues. Don’t get sucked into the hateful comments, don’t try to help them see the light or become more positive people. For some folks, there is nothing they love more than picking apart every word, every nuance, and every typo in an article and then using as a launching point for a diatribe.
- Limit the time you spend consuming news. Unless you do this professionally, there’s no need to spend hours every day reading articles or watching YouTube videos about dead bodies being stacked on top of one another or how everyone is out of PPE. Limit yourself to a half an hour a couple of times per day. Have some websites that are your go-to sites for information. For the purpose of coronavirus coverage, I’ve found that Zero Hedge covers it from multiple angles, they break the news quickly, and even though they may be controversial and outspoken, they are extremely accurate. You can also subscribe to my newsletter here to get some quick updates.
- Forget about all those lengthy press briefings. For a while, I was watching press briefings for the state where I’m staying and the presidential briefings. Particularly in the White House briefings, hours and hours were wasted on this every day. Reporters ask questions that were just answered in the briefing. Countless experts blow sunshine up your pants telling you how they have things under control. Lie after lie is told. A lot of the briefings from different governors as well as the White House are meant to be more conciliatory than factual. This isn’t to say that every person with a microphone is outright lying, but that they’re meant to keep people calm. Do yourself a favor – find a place that gives a reliable summary and spend five minutes reading that instead.
We live in a world in which information is constantly at our fingertips. This can be very unhealthy unless you control your consumption of it.
There’s no doubt that this is a difficult time.
We are living through historic times that will no doubt be analyzed for decades or even centuries if human beings are around long enough. The things occurring right now like the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the collapse of economies around the world are changing everything and a lot of those changes will lead to even more difficult times ahead.
Always remember there are things within your control. Cultivate things that are positive and reduce your exposure to things that are negative. Remember that you can’t control the huge, horrible events in this world, but you can control your response to them by focusing on your preparations and your mental well-being.
You can choose to stay out of these arguments that nobody wins. You aren’t going to change the minds of people calling others names on the internet. You aren’t going to enlighten people who aren’t seeking that kind of knowledge. If your own well-being is at risk, take a step back. Observe it all from a place of distance. As the old saying goes, those who wrestle with pigs get muddy too. Stay out of the mud and you will feel far less overwhelmed.
Make yourself a list of the projects you want to tackle, the things that bring you a sense of peace, and the tasks you can do to be better prepared. Make these things your focus.
Right now, as far as “apocalypses” go, most of us aren’t doing too badly. We have access to food, running water, power, relative peace, and the internet. Things may very well get worse but you can have a plan for that.
What are the things you’re focusing on?
Let go of the stuff you can’t control and focus on the stuff you can control. Don’t dwell non-stop on the bad stuff. It’s as simple – and perhaps as difficult – as that.
What are the things within your control on which you’re focusing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Daisy Luther writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
About the Author
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.