Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Staying grounded in these times 


The news can feel overwhelming. To maintain a sense of well-being while staying informed, limit media consumption and find a mindfulness practice that works for you. 

Our brains don’t like uncertainty and we’re certainly in uncertain times. We view uncertainty as a potential threat to our well-being. When a situation is uncertain, we can’t plan and take appropriate actions, and this can feel unsettling. We may try to curtail this anxiety by gathering information via various media outlets. On the one hand, it’s important to stay informed. On the other hand, the constant barrage of information can further increase anxiety. 


Some anxiety is useful. It motivates us to take appropriate action if needed. However, when anxiety is impairing or begins to interfere significantly with our ability to function, it’s important to address. Here’s what we can do and suggest patients do:  


1. Limit access to information.  

For example, check a few reliable sources only once or twice a day. 


2. Remember that the mind can fixate on catastrophic outcomes (or make already catastrophic situations even more catastrophic).  


3. Note the facts of the current situation and don’t add an additional “story” to the situation (usually these start with “what if . . .”).

The facts can be stressful enough. 


4. Different people have different methods of coping with stress. Identify your positive coping strategies (socialization, exercise, meditation, hobbies, et cetera).

Are you using at least some of these strategies most days? If not, start small and build, beginning with just five minutes every day.


5. Any form of relaxation or mindfulness can turn off the stress response and allow us to think more clearly and effectively.  

Pause and take a few deep breaths several times a day. Tell yourself that this moment is the only reality. Take some time to listen to guided meditations before bed or in the early morning. When the mind wanders to stressful thoughts, practice noting the thoughts and returning to the activity. By doing this, you’re not consumed by worries the entire day.  


6. Practice gratitude.

Even amid external stressors we can find things to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude can help decrease stress and improve well-being. List a few things that you’re grateful for in the morning or before bed.  


7. Remind yourself that most of us are impacted in some capacity by events in the world.

Envision others who are suffering and send thoughts of kindness and peace to them. This simple act can bring a sense of connection and healing. 


8. Pause and take three deep breaths several times a day or bring attention to your senses.

Our breath and senses are always in the present and can ground us back into the moment. 


If you need additional help, don’t hesitate to contact your primary care provider, a therapist, or employee assistance program.  










This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.