Dear Rachel,

I see the news daily, and it’s frightening. Global issues seem so big, and the world appears to be falling apart. Climate change, inflation and anti-semitism are on the rise. My nerves are frayed, and I regret to admit that sometimes I take out my anxiety on those closest to me—my children and my spouse. I know that I should have more faith, but as much as I try, I’m still scared and getting more scared by the day.


Dear Frightened,

I hear you. I believe that we are all in the same boat when it comes to feeling nervous about the world. You are not alone.

But stress is harmful to your nervous system and to others around you, so let’s see if we can dial down some of that anxiety.

When there are irascible political conflicts, significant climate changes, stock-market drops and inflation upticks, we can feel the reverberations of these worries in our entire being. It’s hard not to be touched by the negativity and fear that abounds.

And where is G‑d in all of this? We know that He’s running the show, but it seems that everything has run amok.

The issues feel enormous, and we feel so small. Powerless.

But the Torah tells us that we are not powerless. In fact, the Torah consistently empowers us.

As Jews, we cannot live only in the world of nature and what appears before our eyes. We need to go beyond the physical. The world is made up of the energy of Divine letters. Right now, our eyes are not privy to see it that way, but it is G‑d’s truth.

The spies that were sent to report about the Land of Canaan returned with this statement: “We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than us. … We appeared like grasshoppers in our eyes, and that’s how we were in their eyes.”1

To sum it up in one word: powerlessness. But the spies were punished for this report, and the Jews were punished for believing them. G‑d wants us to know that He is limitless. He can do anything, no matter what the world looks like.

And we need to know that that same G‑d empowers us. It is our job not to believe what the world is telling us, but to believe in this limitless G‑d and believe ourselves to have the power to make positive changes in this world. But we can’t do this if we are frozen in fear and see ourselves as negligible to make change.

So, how can we avoid becoming overwhelmed by global issues?

1. Strengthen Your Bitachon

Perhaps the most powerful way in which to combat the negativity of our current era is through trust in G‑d. Chassidic teachings explain that everything that G‑d does is for our good, even if it doesn’t look that way. When we lean into our natural bitachon—after all, we are called “believers, the children of believers”2—we can feel peace in spite of what is going on around us.

The Rebbe also encouraged us to focus on our belief in Moshiach and the imminent Redemption. This not only strengthens us, but has the added benefit of hastening the coming of this peaceful time.

2. Limit Your Exposure

The Torah tells us to protect our gates. Those can be external property gates or our eyes and ears—the gates to our mind and soul.

A lot of venting happens on social media and at social events, but do you want to participate? Maybe you’d prefer to get more personal and talk about the kids or a recent vacation and the wonders of relaxation. Or a new exciting project or some knowledge they have that you’d love to hear. To a certain extent, you get to choose the exposure you have to these issues.

There is so much good news happening in the world at large, and yet, this is rarely shared in the media, which is often alarmist and doomsday-oriented. As philosopher Alain de Botton said, “Always remember that the news is always trying to make you scared. It’s bad for us, but very good for news organizations: the easiest way to get an audience is through frightening people.”

Choose carefully what you expose yourself to. You can listen to music that is soothing and Torah classes that are enlightening. You can engage with others, perhaps leading the conversation to topics that are uplifting and connecting. Your friends and colleagues may feel very grateful to leave an event feeling relaxed and happy instead of in an anxious state of stress.

3. Choose More Productive Thoughts

Anxiety is generally made up of three emotions: anger, fear and sadness. Identify which emotion is most present around that global issue that you are thinking about. You may feel all three of the emotions, but maybe one more present than the others.

Clenched jaw? Who are you angry with?

Dropped stomach? What are you afraid of?

Constricted breath and tight chest? What are you ruminating about?

Notice which sensations are coming up for you and put your hand on that part. Comfort yourself with compassion for your sadness. Send compassion with your thoughts and energy to others suffering, and choose more productive thoughts.

Let that emotional energy flow.

4. Take Action, However Small

Take small steps to help the causes you care about. Charity or volunteering with organizations that you feel make a difference is a great plan. Don’t overwhelm your nervous system with big tasks; understand that tiny steps can lead to big changes.

The Rebbe always encouraged action. The Torah tells us how to take that action—by performing acts of kindness, smiling at people, giving charity, praying, saying Psalms and exchanging inspirational words with others. Have faith in a big G‑d Who controls the world.

G‑d is in you and empowers you to make a difference in this world. Keep adding light and bring uplifting, soothing energy to a world that is broken, yet yearning to be fixed.