According to the American Psychological Association, most Americans deal with an enormous amount of stress from the current issues both in our nation and across the globe.
This is not exactly a shock, given the 24-hour news blitz of one catastrophe after another. But these stress levels reached new heights in 2020, as more than 70 percent of Americans consider last year’s events some of the worst they have experienced. Not to mention, with one in five U.S. adults relying on social media for the news, this direct access to information at our fingertips can escalate anxiety even more.
It’s our responsibility as citizens to be informed of the sociopolitical climate around us, but where’s the line between paying attention and compromising sanity? If each new headline alert on our phones or update on our Twitter feeds causes a hammering pulse and shallow breathing, are we too consumed with the news cycle?
Moreover, is it possible to balance civic awareness with mental and emotional stability— and how can we maintain this equilibrium? If this question is on your brain more than ever right now, here are some ways to hold onto inner peace in the midst of a stressful, continuous information onslaught.
Start Each Morning Without News Exposure.
Rather than doom-scrolling within five minutes of being awake as you wait for the coffee to brew, resist the urge to open your newsfeed for at least an hour or two. And in place of this mindless habit, create an intentional, peaceful morning routine. Enjoy a nutritious breakfast with your coffee or tea. Designate some time to write in a journal, listen to a meditation or walk in nature. Put yourself in a rooted, stable frame of mind before you check the latest headlines.
Initiate Screen Limits for Social Media Apps.
If a social media network is your main information source, this is not an effective method of news consumption. Pew Research Center data (referenced above) shows that Americans who use social media as a primary outlet are less knowledgeable on topical issues than others who diversify their news platforms. So be careful about how much time you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat and set screen limits on each app to monitor usage.
Make an Effort to Choose Unbiased Sources.
In this era when “fake news” is such a buzzword, it can be confusing to determine which publications are trustworthy. Some outlets do report on facts with data-backed articles and journalistic integrity (what a novel concept, right?!). But many others are biased—or worse, polarized—so you’ll want to avoid those. While it’s hard to come across a truly nonpartisan source, three of the most credibly rated news outlets are Associated Press, Reuters and The Conversation.
Find a Calming Outlet if You’re Overwhelmed.
With a cultural landscape as bleak as the one we’re currently facing, too much news access can overwhelm your mental health. That’s why self-care is so important and not to be pushed on the back burner. So if all this media coverage starts to feel like more than you can handle, unplug and immerse yourself in a creative, enjoyable or relaxing pursuit. Bake some muffins. Write a poem. Do a yoga flow. Learn to crochet. Ride your bike. Paint a watercolor sunset.
Curate Your Social Feeds to Show Positive News.
Of course, it’s not healthy to overlook the harsh realities of this world altogether, but you can also balance the heaviness with some positivity too. From inspirational quotes and wellness advice, to uplifting news stories and therapeutic resources, to beautiful artwork and cute animal photos, fill your social feeds with content to make you smile or remind you that life is not as dark as it often seems. (We recommend following The SunDaze Journey account…wink, wink!)
Don’t Just Consume. Take an Action to Help.
Reading or watching the news can make you feel helpless, but taking an active role to further solutions can be a source of empowerment. If an issue pulls at your heartstrings, find opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way. Whether it’s the nuclear crisis in Beirut, the poor water quality in Flint, or the COVID-19 death rates in the Navajo Nation, you can help to make a difference and support relief organizations on the frontlines of these and other social blights.
Over the past year, has it been difficult to balance staying informed and preserving your inner peace? What are some techniques that work for you in this area? Have you tried any of our strategies, or can you think of some others we didn’t mention on our list? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!