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How to Help If You’re Feeling Helpless (and ways to step away when you need a minute)

Updated: Feb 24

Raise your hand if you’re feeling overwhelmed at everything going on in the world.

Every morning when I click on the news (shout out to The Today Show), I am instantly hit a nonstop stream of bad news that quickly becomes mentally & emotionally overbearing. Everything from COVID, to mass shootings & street violence, to natural disasters, to conflict in The Middle East, to a bomb threat at the Capitol – the world feels like a dumpster fire. I am personally feeling torn between wanting to help & stay informed, yet wanting to protect my own mental wellbeing at the same time. Most everyone I talk to has been feeling the same way, so I decided to put together a comprehensive list of non-profits & resources to pull from when you feel like you want to help somehow. And since setting boundaries is also important, I put together another list of my favorite ways to step back and get some mental space from everything around us. I hope you find this information helpful, and if you have any other favorites that I should add, please do reach out and I will add them to the list!

Resources To Help Haiti:

  1. HERO Client Rescue http://www.heroclientrescue.com. HERO’s Rescue and Evacuation Service is the only team to offer emergency services with Paramedical and Rescue Specialists from the United States who hold specialty certifications in advanced medicine, remote medicine, technical rescue, flight medicine, tactical medicine, security and evacuation.

  2. Doctors Without Borders in Haitihttps://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/countries/haiti. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams are on the ground in Haiti to respond to the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the country on Saturday, August 14. More than 2,000 people were killed and more than 12,000 injured, according to Haitian authorities. Thousands of people in the southern region are stranded without shelter as homes and other critical infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed. Our teams are providing medical care, assisting local hospitals and health facilities, and sending in essential supplies and personnel to help.

  3. Haiti Air Ambulance – https://www.haitiairambulance.org; Haiti Air Ambulance is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing emergency helicopter services to the people of Haiti. HAA flies critically ill or injured patients to emergency medical care providers based solely on need. We are committed to expanding healthcare security, creating jobs, developing programs and fostering an environment of social growth and sustainability in Haiti.

Resources To Help Afghanistan:

  1. International Rescue Committee – https://www.rescue.org/country/afghanistan; The International Rescue Committee helps people who lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to recover, survive and regain control of their lives. We have been working in Afghanistan for more than 30 years and remain dedicated to supporting people caught in this dire crisis. 

  2. Email The White House via International Rescue Committee – : The International Rescue Committee has an email form through which you can urge the Biden administration to take immediate steps to ensure “vulnerable Afghans have pathways to safety.” Click here to get taken to the email form, that is pre-written and ready to be sent!

  3. Women for Afghan Women – https://womenforafghanwomen.org; Women for Afghan Women is committed to working towards a world in which Afghan women and girls enjoy peace, justice, equality, and the freedoms to participate in all spheres of life and live without fear. Women for Afghan Women envisions a world in which all women and their families thrive and prosper.

  4. International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) – https://refugeerights.org; The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons. Mobilizing direct legal aid, litigation, and systemic advocacy, IRAP serves the world’s most persecuted individuals and empowers the next generation of human rights leaders.

Resources To Help Stop Gun Violence & Mass Shootings Across America:

  1. Vote for Change – The biggest way that you can help prevent gun violence and mass shootings in this country is by voting. Vote for officials who want to implement policies & changes that will make the public safer against gun violence. Vote for propositions & measures in your local elections that also do the same. This past November of 2020, Chicago citizens voted yes to a measure that advised the state of Illinois  to “restrict the sale or possession of firearms that have been defined as assault weapons or of magazines that can hold more than a certain number of rounds of ammunition.” These are measures that will make my city safer, and is something I will continue to vote on in the future.

  2. Sandy Hook Promisehttps://www.sandyhookpromise.org; Sandy Hook Promise is a national nonprofit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Based in Newtown, Connecticut, our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. By empowering youth to “know the signs” and uniting all people who value the protection of children, we can take meaningful actions in schools, homes, and communities to prevent gun violence and stop the tragic loss of life.

  3. Everytownhttps://www.everytown.org; We are a movement of more than 6 million moms, mayors, survivors, students, and everyday Americans working to end gun violence. Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund advocates for gun safety measures in state legislatures across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

Resources To Help With COVID-19

  1. Get Your COVID Vaccine – I know it has become taboo for people on the internet to openly talk about vaccines, and that you should “let people have their choice”, but f**k that. You can unfollow me if you want, I really won’t care, because I am unapologetically in support of the COVID-19 vaccine. I truly believe that our best line of defense we have against the coronavirus is to get vaccinated. The science is there, and the data clearly states how it protects against serious illness & complications from COVID. And as of today, the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine, so there really is no excuse. Here are a few websites where you can research the vaccine. The CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/your-vaccination.html; The FDA: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-covid-19-vaccine

  2. Donate to your local food bank – https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank; Tons of individuals & families have been struggling financially since the start of the pandemic, which can mean not having enough to eat or feed your family. Donating to your local food bank is an amazing way to help, and impacts someone in a profound way. Here is a link to find your local food bank through Feeding America. When I financially am able to, I donate online to The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Even as little as $10 can make a difference.

  3. Continue to follow public health guidelines – With these new variants on the rise, the CDC has recommendations & guidelines for how to stay safe and keep your family safe, even after vaccination. Click here to learn about how to continue to stay safe, especially with the upcoming winter season.

Stepping Back & Setting Boundaries

In this hectic and chaotic state of the world, it is very important to know when to step back and turn off the news. I completely understand feeling like you want to stay informed and get involved, but also feeling overwhelmed and overburdened by tragedy. Here are a few of my favorite ways to take a deep breath and step away.

  1. Barefoot Contessa – Nothing brings me joy like my girl Ina Garten. There is something so comforting about clicking on a half hour episode of her cooking show, listening to her soothing voice spell out all the steps to her roast chicken, and listen to her gush about Jeffery. Even though I am not the best at cooking, I still get so much enjoyment out of watching her do it.

  2. Reading – Escapism, party of 1. Reading is my favorite hobby to escape the world, and you don’t need a lot of money to do it. Check out your local library and spend an afternoon getting lost in the stacks.

  3. Take A Walk Outside – Fresh air outside has become like a privilege in these COVID times. Even just a 20 minute stroll with some music gives you time to reset and get some perspective.

  4. Dive Into a TV Series – I think we can all agree that this pandemic has made us love a good TV series, and it really is a perfect escape from this world. Sometimes I need something brainless, so I’ll turn on reruns of The Hills or The Bachelorette, or I’ll dive into a murder mystery like True Detective. Whatever your tastes are, TV shows are a really great way to get your mind off of things.

  5. Go Out With A Friend – On the weekends my husband & I love to get out of the house and get our mind off things with a fun adventure – while following COVID protocols, of course! Sometimes we head down to the lake, sometimes we hang out downtown & try a new restaurant, every week its something different! This is a super fun way to get out and find a change of scenery!

  6. Meditation – I have to admit, I haven’t been the best at being consistent with my meditation, but I try at least a few times a week to get even just 10 minutes in. I love the app Headspace, but there are tons to use.

  7. Clean Something – Okay, I know this might sound obscure, but whenever I’m feeling restless I love to clean. Even if its just decluttering the coffee table and the kitchen counter, or going through old clothes in my closet, getting my hands and mind active with a cleaning task really seems to help. Call me crazy, but it helps!

Above all, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and out of control with your emotions during this time I recommend seeking professional help. I see both a therapist and a psychiatrist that prescribes me medicine, which has helped my lifestyle tremendously, especially through these past few years. If you need help finding a mental health provider in your area, click here. And know, that you’re not alone. I am right there with you feeling all the feelings.


XO Megan

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