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As the World Churns, Here’s How to Keep Calm and Carry On

Hope is one key. Here are the others.

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Keep calm and carry on? You gotta be kidding. This, while wars are raging, the climate is burning and bigotry abounds. How do we carry on, with hope and resilience, as our world rocks with chaos and uncertainty?

I could advise you to do what you hear often. Take long walks, a boost to mind, spirit and longevity. Science has found that even brisk half-hour walks daily increase bone strength and cardiovascular fitness. Taking those treks in nature has the added benefit of enhancing mental health.

I could tell you to stay connected to loving and supportive people, those friends and family members who fill us with confidence and fulfillment. Beyond giving feel-good vibes, being embraced by a close community also helps us live longer, another finding of medical research.

Here are other ways to feel sane and centered, and to keep calm and carry on, if for no other reason than we have to. The alternative is to cower under the covers, immobilized with fear.

Keep up your familiar routines.

Maintaining our daily routines is critical. Our predictable schedules steel ourselves from the stress of uncertainty. So keep up your ordinary lives: Drink your tea or coffee in the morning, eat your cereal or avocado toast, and do what you need and want to do, for pleasure, work and family.

Sticking to our ordinary routines in these extraordinary times gives a soothing rhythm to our days. We know what to expect and we are in control, shielded from the uncontrollable events swirling around us. Adhering to our routines also makes us stay in the present, and keeps us from obsessing about what could lie ahead.

As many of us now use our homes as offices, these familiar shelters can feel like secure harbors from the scary global storms.

I am in no way suggesting we ignore world events. Part of our daily routines may include getting involved in issues we care about. Instead of feeling helpless about a warming planet or a rise in gun violence, we have the choice to volunteer, to be activists and to work for change.

When my kids were young and I would complain about something frightening blaring on the TV news, they would say to me, “Well, mom, what are you going to do about it?” This nudged me to get involved with organizations that were dedicated to doing something about the issues that topped my list of laments.

Pushing through our fears with action gives us great courage and satisfaction. And, tough times do call for bravery.

When you act calm and brave you become calmer and braver.

Those sons are now 34, 32 and 30-year-old twins. They came of age with 9/11, daily mass murders and several subsequent wars. As mothers, grandmothers, aunts and godmothers, it is tough to answer their questions about the terror and turmoil. When I was afraid of world events, my own mother would tell me: “This too shall pass." That was always a soothing message, a light of hope. She would then explain that our ancestors have all faced hard challenges and prevailed.

We must have the stamina to keep going. Stamina, in addition to hope, is so important.

Born in Warsaw and a survivor of the Holocaust, my mother would speak about the importance of willpower — or stamina — to move through adversity. I am sure she had her own fears about the world her own young children faced, particularly when we had bomb shelter drills in school during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 60s. But my mom always acted fearless, and we learned the value of grit and resilience. And while it was not yet a popular slogan, we saw firsthand the value of keeping calm and carrying on.

The slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” was coined by the British government during the Nazi Blitz of World War II, five years of bombings and killings. Under the stoic and undeterred leadership of Winston Churchill, those words that were originally imprinted on posters and placed in shop windows must have strengthened the shaky citizens who did keep on — amid unthinkable despair.

There is something in the message of “Keep Calm and Carry On” that does give us hope, If the Brits could resolve to carry on during those torturous times, we can, too. We have to. As women — the traditional caregivers who have many people counting on us to be hopeful and strong — we need to carry on and on.

My mother would say to me when I was a college student who wore no make-up and my idea of dressing up was khakis and halter tops: “Would it kill you to put a little lipstick on?” These days even when I go to the gym in sweats, I put a little lipstick on whenever I leave the house — and my mom who passed in 2006 is with me.

A little bit of lipstick somehow does make me feel more confident about facing the world. And, when we put our best face forward, we inspire courage and hope in those who count on us to be hopeful and strong.

So let us all do our best to keep calm, and keep living solidly in our ordinary lives. This is what we need to do to stay grounded during the inevitable shake-ups in our lives — bad illnesses, the death of loved ones, crazy world events. Throughout history, humans have managed to ride this wild and unpredictable roller coaster of random events and circumstances — and we are still here.

What we can control is drilling down into our calm centers, with a formal meditation practice or just deciding every day that we will do something that gives us peace. As the world churns, we need to find that solace deep within — it steadies us and elongates our lives.

Stress drives up blood pressure which increases the risk of killer diseases. Stress is a roadblock to happiness. So keep calm and keep moving on. We do not get to experience the joy in the present, and that which awaits us, unless we plod onward, through the dark tunnels and into the light.

How do you keep calm and carry on when bad things happen? What's the key? Let us know in the comments below.

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