I found myself in a constant state of agitation or depression with the climate of our country, the news and what is going on in the world as a result of it. I have started turning the TV off during news broadcasts, reading a good book and cutting down on the amount of political pages in my Facebook news feed. I am finding myself to be calmer and feeling more optimistic about how I feel about the world I live in. Thank you for bringing this “bad habit” of mine to my attention so I could do something about it.
– Deby, Georgetown
Last weekend was an intentional retreat time for me during which I “fasted” from all media input — no films, radio, TV, magazines. Initially, I noticed a marked increase in my anxiety level. When I leaned into that anxiety I found an entrenched hyper-vigilance, a need to be fed information in order to maintain what I realized was an illusory sense of control. When I was able to let that need go, my anxiety decreased markedly and energy was freed up for creative projects. Come Monday I decided to change my consumption of news, choosing two trusted sources — one for national and world events, the other a Facebook group that keeps me informed about state and local action issues. I find I’m breathing more deeply and feeling a greater sense of equanimity and agency.
– Deborah, Questa NM
FB is my main source of news and I have been aggressively limiting my time online. Laughter has been a powerful tool for me so when I am approaching news saturation I switch to humorous posts.
– Kate, Philadelphia PA
I found that I was using the echo chamber of Facebook for getting much of my news, in the form of posts from friends with links to eye-catching, valid news stories from reputable sources. However, it felt like mixing business and pleasure; I found that I was turning to Facebook more for staying up to date on the news and interesting-sounding political articles than for staying up to date with friends, and because the news link posts would catch me off guard, I felt powerless to resist clicking on them. I have disabled my Facebook account indefinitely, and feel so much more clarity and control and focus than before. It allows me to consciously choose when to look at news stories.
– Kate, Nashville TN
I’m quarantining myself from going on-line before noon and after 7:00 in the evening. It makes a difference not just during those chunks of time; it interrupts my whole addictive relationship with the Internet. The necessity of “checking” for postings and action items Right Now is smoothed into the flow of a day that makes sense on its own terms. Then my political responsibilities can be added to that flow — with boundaries. Also, even within “allowed” time, I have boundaries. When I’ve been out of the house and first come home, there’s that synapse that fires – check the Internet. Even though that synapse still fires, I don’t let it have a one-to-one cause-effect relationship. My discipline is to do at least three other things first, whether it be to put away the laundry, clean up the kitchen, phone my sister . . . Anything other than reinforce the Pavlov’s dog stimulus response of Walk In, Go Online. This has to do with more than the news, but titrating my news to a sane level is definitely at the core of it.
– Nancy-Laurel, Jacksonville FL
Since reading your list I’ve been more deliberate about listening to radio news when I wake up – just a bit and then turn it off, as it is very short, sharp, superficial stuff at that time of day. The less the better. And then I sit in meditation for 10 minutes. A lot of my other news I get through Facebook friends who spend more time than I do seeking out positive and interesting stories, so they feed me differently. I avoid ‘Ain’t it awful’ news as it does nothing for me and it makes no positive difference if I heed it or not. I occasionally read one newspaper but am careful to underdo it. This all makes me feel I ‘don’t know what’s going on’, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take!
– Liz, Oxford England
I have been trying to avoid news late in the evening since it makes me wake up thinking about it. I read that if we stay in a state of constant frenzy and outrage, our brains will turn down the outrage to protect us and we will start to adapt. The things going on today will start to seem “normal.” Yikes… enough to convince me to take breaks! Thanks for these reminders.
– Ginger, Colton NY
I do have trusted news sources and I often share articles. Before I share on Facebook, I always look at the source. If I receive email from someone I don’t trust or it duplicates, then I’ll unsubscribe.
– Deb, Rossmoor, CA
I don’t own a TV or computer, and I don’t watch TV on my smartphone. Whenever listening to the radio, I change the station if sensational or silly non-news comes on. On Facebook, I skip over political posts that are fear-based, mean-spirited, dubious, or irrelevant. It’s not always easy, and you can’t “unsee” certain photos or headlines. But I don’t want to ‘unfriend’ people just because they’re getting pulled in.
– Cynthia, Albany NY