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DEAR HARRIETTE: I cut off a lot of “friends” who were no good for me and did not have my best interests at heart, but now I’m lonely and bored. I had only a handful of close friends to begin with, but it was draining being friends with them. They would often leave me out of things and make me feel like an outcast. It was definitely time to cut them off.
Now the problem is that I have no one to hang out with. Did I make a mistake by getting rid of all of them at once? I have no idea what’s next for my social life, and it makes me very sad. — Lonely
DEAR LONELY: Be patient and trust that new friends will emerge over time. First, give yourself credit for proactively taking care of yourself by separating from toxic people. That was a smart move on your part even if it feels lonely today.
Now you have to put yourself out there so that you can enjoy life and meet new people. Pay attention to what’s going on in your city. Look for current events bulletins online, on the local news and in your local newspaper. What’s happening that you find interesting? Go to those activities and look around. When you notice someone who seems friendly, strike up a conversation with them. Be open to meeting people and having casual conversation with them. Over time, someone will click with you. In the meantime, you will be enjoying fun things that are going on where you live.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I would definitely describe myself as an empath. Tragic world news makes me extremely sad, so I’ve been having a very hard time staying positive lately. Even though it is painful, I understand that I can’t just avoid the news. As an educator, it is important that I stay up to date on current events. How do I protect my mental health from depressing news stories while still remaining informed? — Empath
DEAR EMPATH: A few years ago, I was glued to the news, worrying about what might happen from day to day. Recently, with the mass shootings, that dread has crept up again. For an empath, the weight of the misery of the world is even more impactful. What I did is what I recommend to you. Limit your intake of the news, and be sure to balance it out with positive information. Do not turn on the news the moment you wake up. Be sure to tune it out well before you go to bed. Fill your awake time with cheerful music, interactions with loved ones and other carefully curated positive engagements.
Allow yourself not to know every current event that becomes breaking news. If you miss something, your students will inform you. You can also teach them to pay attention to the news sparingly. As you protect yourself, you protect them. It’s win-win.
Additionally, consider adding healing activities to your daily routine, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, stretching and running. Listen to soothing music as you start and end your day. Take a hot bath at night. Plan specific ways to engage beauty and potential to help balance out the negativity.