There’s no point in sugarcoating this topic. There’s currently a lot of negative, fearful, angry and defensive information being thrown at us on a minute by minute basis.
Taking care of our own well-being and sanity must become a priority in a time like this.
Now more than ever, we need to take precautions, in relation to what we expose ourselves to from day to day. According to Pew Research Centre, more than one-third of social media users are worn out by the amount of political content they encounter. Does that sound like you? Constant negative information can lead to high amounts of stress and anxiety.
Why does this matter?
Chronic exposure to things that stress us out make it hard for us to pay attention, make decisions and engage effectively with the people around us. As I’ve mentioned before, this type of chronic stress can have serious effects on the brain, leaving us feeling anxious, depressed and depleted.
How can you protect yourself in today’s environment while staying educated on what’s going on in the world?
- Limit your exposure time
The average American spends 2.8 hours a day watching television, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, and this doesn’t include time spent on social media. That’s a lot of time spent stimulating the fear centers in our brain!
On social media, 50% of posts are estimated to be political. No matter where we stand politically, when scrolling through our newsfeed we can feel strong emotions of stress, resentment, and anger.
Limit the time you spend watching the news or checking your SM feeds to one hour per day; the less the better. This should be more than enough to get the news, check the weather and see what friends are up to. Any more and you risk soaking up too much negative content.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
In the words of Phap Dung: “When you sit with someone who’s calm, you can become calm. If you sit with someone who’s agitated and hateful, you can become agitated and hateful.”
It can be contagious to dive into a heated conversation about the current political environment or crisis. Before you do so, ask yourself “how do I want to feel?” If involving yourself in the conversation does not lead to the emotional outcome you want to have, simply remove yourself from the situation.
- Use your smartphone consciously
Our phones today have the same capabilities as a computer and they are a quick source to endless sources of information.
When we have news, updates, emails and conversations set to notify us on arrival, we get bombarded with information that we have no control over. This information can be addictive by nature and increase levels of stress and anxiety.
There are easy adjustments we can all make to limit the impact of our smartphone on our well-being. We have put together some mindful hacks for mobiles here.
- Be present
All of this information, news, and conversations is making it hard to be in and enjoy the present moment.
Set a few alarms on your phone and take 20 seconds a few times throughout the day, to take a few breaths, notice what you hear and notice what you see. Some people find this is easier to do in nature and others enjoy the comfort of their home or office.
When we are present, we acknowledge gratitude and well-being. This brings the brain back down to normal rhythms and builds resilience to stress and anxiety.
How are you taking care of yourself?
The key to protecting your health and well-being in any time of unrest is to keep checking in with yourself and assess how you feel. Monitor how watching the news or surfing the internet affects your mood and take action to steer toward the emotions you want to be feeling.