BREXIT – how to feel less sad and worried with these things to do, think/say and read

brit flagIt worries me that people are so distressed about BREXIT.  Some people are going beyond angst to clinical anxiety and depression.  So I’ve compiled a list of things you can do, say/think and read that might make you feel better.  And once you feel better, you’ll be more able and motivated to take action to help get Britain to a better place.  If you want to!

All of these things – taking action, answering negative thoughts and bibliotherapy – are proven effective in reducing sadness and worry.

  1. What to do: this is just as effective in reducing negative thoughts as changing your thoughts directly.
  • Write a letter to your local M.P.
  • Start a petition to re-join the EU.
  • Join a political party that you think might get Britain to a better place.
  • Read up on the EU and the pros and cons of belonging.
  • Talk online about this topic, in terms of ‘what actions shall we take?’.
  • Volunteer to help at a homeless shelter or some other charity that helps people in need, to address the problems caused by inequality.
  • Organize a march, whether for or against re-joining the EU.
  • Make a sign and put it in your front yard or window.
  • Start a Facebook group to work towards re-joining the EU or staying out of it.
  • Write a list of things that are still good about Britain.
  • Write a flyer and deliver it locally.
  1. What to think/say: a lot of the discussion about BREXIT is characterized by mistakes in logic and reasoning such as catastrophizing, all or nothing thinking, fortune telling, emotional reasoning and overgeneralization. I’m not on either side – I just want people to not stress over it or get so paralyzed by emotion they can’t take action. Here are some different ways of looking at it that may make you feel better.
  • The predictions about the dire effects of leaving the EU are words and thoughts, not facts. These things have not happened yet.  They may never (mistakes = catastrophizing i.e. thinking something is going to be terrible, and fortune telling, or predicting the future).
  • Just because talking and thinking about these dire predictions makes me feel bad, doesn’t make them true (mistake = emotional reasoning i.e. believing that because a thought makes you feel bad that means it is true).
  • Maybe not all the consequences of leaving – or even the majority – will be negative. In life things are generally a mix of negative and positive, even the worst things, and there may be good consequences (mistakes = all or nothing thinking, focus on the negatives).
  • Just because one bad thing has happened as a result (the drop in value of the pound – I don’t think we can count the resignation of David Cameron as a bad thing!) does not mean all the bad things predicted will happen, or even most of them. This may be a panic reaction and could change (mistake = overgeneralization i.e. predicting a lot of bad things based on one bad thing).
dave cameron

David Cameron waves bye bye

  • This situation may not last forever. Britain may decide it’s better off in the EU and vote to go back, in which case the EU is highly likely to say ‘yes’ (mistake = permanence i.e. believing bad things will last forever).
  • Britain has survived much worse things, like Maggie Thatcher and World War 2. It will survive this, and possibly even end up better.
  • Overall, history shows us that the life circumstances of human beings have improved, despite ups and downs. Dire predictions of how changes are likely to be disastrous (such as the industrial revolution) have usually turned out to be untrue.  This may be the case now (mistake = catastrophizing).
  • The media is in the business of selling bad news and fear in order to make money, so it pays not to take them too seriously (mistake = focus on the negative).
  • The best thing to do to prevent the far right gaining power in Europe, Britain and the U.S. is to take action – run for local council, volunteer for a party you believe in, put up posters, deliver flyers, stand on a soapbox! If everyone who cares works to stop it happening, they will probably succeed.

3.Things to read: bibliotherapy is a proven way of reducing anxiety and depression.  Suggested books include a more positive look at history, a memoir by someone who found the positive in even the most negative experiences and a book about how things that look bad at first can turn out to be blessings in disguise.

  • mans search for meaningMan’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. An inspiring memoir of how one man coped in a concentration camp in World War 2, in solitude, cold and hungry.  He took power over his thoughts and refused to let his circumstances control him.
  • The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, about how life has improved and prosperity increased, despite dire predictions about the effects of the industrial revolution, migrations from the country to the city, how the world will run out of food and may other things
  • Matt Ridley’s blog post on how the EU was once a good thing to belong to but now is stuck in economic stagnation, and Britain might be better off financially to be an independent trader again, forming its own trade alliances.
  • When One Door Closes, Another Door Opens by Arthur Pine. This is full of stories of arthur pine one door openspeople who have had bad things happen to them, and then found that the setback or disappointment they suffered actually led to a better outcome.  It could give you hope that Brexit could lead to a good outome for Britain, or that your own life could end up getting better.

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