5 Tips For Calming the Fuck Down While the World Falls Apart

Advice from a bestselling self-help author who is just as anxious as you are

sarah knight
5 min readMar 17, 2020

Hey guys, I give advice for a living. I am also a human who is CHOCK FULL OF ANXIETY, so I thought I’d share some strategies that are helping me rein it in these days and that might help you, too.

BONUS: My tips are not exclusive to global pandemics! They should aid you in calming down about all of the other wackadoodle-doo that’s going on in the world and that will, I regret to inform you, continue until the end of time.

I mean, let’s be real — America has been a total shit show for a while now. The president is an unhinged narcissist, the ruling political party is composed largely of simpering cowards, and affordable health care is nothing more than a collective hallucination, treatment for which is not covered by your insurance company.

Good luck getting that COVID-19 test, Boomer.

England and the UK: not doing so hot either. Perhaps you’ve noticed? In fact, if you watch the news (or even just scroll through Twitter), it seems like every continent is seeing not only airborne contagion, but fascism, xenophobia, and sea levels on the rise — or icebergs, honeybees, and civil liberties on the decline. And I don’t know if there is actually more war, pestilence, extreme weather, or dismaying cultural regression going on than ever before, but I do know we’re more aware of it, because technology has seen to it that humans can’t go a millisecond without finding out about the latest gloom and/or doom.

But I digress.

I’m here to make you feel BETTER about all this crap, so rather than scrolling through your news feeds each night before bed and giving yourself teeth-falling-out dreams, perhaps you could try one of the following calming, control-regaining techniques on for size?

Like I said, they work for me, and I’m about as despondent over Coronavirus, crumbling democracy, and devastating climate crisis as it gets!

5 Tips for calming the fuck down about the world falling apart

  1. Limit your exposure. A responsibly informed citizen doesn’t have to be gathering information over breakfast, on the toilet, astride an exercise bike, during their commute, AND right before going to sleep (or trying to go to sleep, anyway). A once-or-twice-per-day news dump should be sufficient to keep you in the know without also keeping your blood pressure higher than Snoop Dogg.
  2. Find a balance. If you can’t dodge the 24-hour news cycle, for every @WashingtonPost you follow, add a palliative account to the mix. On Twitter, I recommend @PepitoTheCat, which is just time-stamped black and white footage of some cat in France coming and going through his cat door, accompanied by the captions “Pépito is out” or “Pépito is back home.” I like to scroll through Pépito’s feed before bed. It’s like counting sheep, but instead you’re counting the same French cat over and over again. Très relaxing.
  3. Bone up. It may seem counterintuitive, but doing a deep dive into whatever single current event is giving you the biggest case of the what-ifs can actually help you vanquish some of your more paranoid fantasies. For example, researching how the “nuclear football” actually works and learning that a certain feeble-minded President would have to memorize certain information in order to launch an attack may have done wonders for a certain someone’s ability to stop worrying [quite so much] about the prospect of this particular mushroom shitcloud sprouting any time soon. You can do the same in re: Coronavirus — just make sure you’re conducting your research via reputable sources like the World Health Organization or the Mayo Clinic, not Uncle Gary’s Whiskey-Time YouTube channel.
  4. Take a memo. Drafting an angry letter to a global leader, a local representative, or, say, a morally repugnant dick weasel who hid virus statistics to help their re-election campaign— can really get the mad out of you. I know this from experience! Also, journaling is scientifically proven to help calm you down by getting all those burning, churning thoughts out of your head and onto the page. You don’t even have to send your angry missive to reap the in-the-moment benefit, but for the cost of a stamp it might be nice to know it’ll reach its intended target. Or at least clutter their inbox. Jerk.
  5. Do good. When I’m feeling powerless about the state of the world, one thing that brings me comfort is donating to a cause — whether it be a global relief fund, a local charity, or just a single person who needs a hand. Is this my economic privilege talking? Sure, but if it makes me feel better and helps someone less fortunate, all I see is a two-for-one special on good deeds. And certainly “giving” needn’t require a cash outlay. You have other resources at your disposal — such as time and energy spent calling your elderly relatives to check in on them during isolating times, or calling your legislators to demand government aid for small businesses and vulnerable workers. If your friends write books or host podcasts or have other quarantine-friendly businesses, you can recommend their stuff to your networks. Stay home to avoid spreading the virus; spread the word to help others stay afloat. Win-win!

Now if you’ll excuse me, while my husband is watching the orange howler monkey’s latest antics on CNN, I have a French cat’s whereabouts to monitor.

(Pépito is out.)

These tips and lots more helpful shit can be found in my book Calm the Fuck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can’t So You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get On With Your Life.

It’s on sale in many parts of the world in print, ebook, and audio forms for all of your quarantine needs. Ooh, and there’s also a matching journal. And a flowchart that I included below — FOR FREE — because that’s just the kind of gal I am.

Hope it helps, and stay safe out there, folks!

Check out www.nofucksgivenguides.com to download your very own copy.

Sarah Knight is the New York Times bestselling author of the No Fucks Given Guides, including The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, Get Your Shit Together, You Do You, and Fuck No! She currently lives in the Dominican Republic with her husband and two feral trash cats, Gladys Knight and Mister Stussy, where they’re all self-isolating just like the rest of you.