When I called my daughter in San Francisco, she answered me in tears.
My heart sank. “What happened? Something very serious?” I asked with great anxiety.
“President Trump, what he does here, his new laws about immigrants and other issues … I cannot do anything! I am always thinking and worrying about the future. And the weather is so gloomy here,” she told me in a sad and quiet voice.
“Maria, I understand your frustration. By the way, did you apply for your Green Card yet? Have you looked for a new apartment?” I asked.
“No, I haven’t done anything! I am really upset and very angry about all this! I am not in the mood.”
One of my friends immersed himself in reading about natural disasters. Every conversation began with some tragic story about a terrible earthquake or tsunami somewhere on the planet.
“Do you actually know how many people died?” he asked persistently. It was hard for him to transition to a cheerful mood and move on to other topics.
Draw the line
Have you ever thought how external circumstance — bad weather, natural disasters, political or economic events, slow traffic or a traffic jam, disturbing news — can literally knock you off track. Your mood quickly deteriorates. The desire to work and create disappears; activity, vitality and energy levels fall. Suddenly, you do not want to go for a run or to the gym, you just want to eat something sweet, wrap yourself in a warm blanket or have a drink to feel better. It’s then easy to slip into winter depression, especially when the rain is pouring and the dull wind is howling day after day.
How and when to draw the line between what we can control and what we cannot? How to clearly define the scope of our own influence? Is it possible to reduce to the minimum, the zone of unnecessary and harmful anxiety, worry, frustration and stress coming from the areas that we can’t influence?
Ask yourself this one question: can I change it?
The fifteen-second rule
If you answered “no”, try this simple but powerful technique. Note the time. Make sure you are alone. You now have 15 seconds to complain, grimace, mock politicians, bang your fist on the table or box your pillow. Express your negative emotions and feelings — then let them go. Release your anger. Fifteen seconds have passed? Your time has expired for indignation. Make peace with it.
Now it’s time to move on. Accept what you cannot change. The rain and wind will stop tomorrow, or the day after. This is temporary. It is not for ever. Be proactive. What can you do to feel better? I wear a stylish hat and boots and carry a bright umbrella. I call friends and arrange to meet them later in a cozy café. All day I look forward to this meeting and to the opportunity to laugh together. I anticipate the taste of cappuccino and delicious tiramisu.
“Maria,” I said to my daughter. “You already went to the Women’s March and expressed your personal attitude to current events. Now, it’s time to do something with your own life, to take care of your own priorities.“
I tell her I love her and walk outside. Above us the grey clouds are giving way to vast blue spaces where the sun has been shining all the time.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her here: www.ninalondon.com</i>