Are you feeling spun up by the news lately? Does it make you angry? Fearful? Irritated? Disgusted? Or perhaps you feel the weight of it pulling you down into a deep hole. It’s hard to avoid what’s on every screen and wondering if the world as we know it has gone mad. How do you keep an even keel?
The truth is that the news is produced to stimulate, activate and keep us glued to the screen. That’s why If it bleeds, it leads is the unspoken rule for high ratings. We get sucked into alarming footage framed in 3D animated backgrounds with a separate newsfeed scrolling across the bottom. This visual hyperactivity alerts our brain’s negativity bias like a fear bath; we may end up in fight, flight or freeze mode without realizing it.
Here are some simple tips to keep your equilibrium:
1. Take a news break. Integrated medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weill suggests skipping news for a week; no radio or social media. This gives you the priceless gift of quiet time – Imagine that! Or get the news just once a day and not before going to bed – it is not a sleep aid. Really, how many times a day do you need to see the bad news? Take control of your emotional environment; be disciplined about where you put your attention.
2. Look for good news. People are committing acts of compassion daily everywhere. They donate to causes, help children, the elderly, or put others at ease. Shine your light on the good stuff and spend time taking it in! Commit some radical acts of kindness on your own. Good news is all over; they just don’t report it on TV.
3. Be the Change. If you’re inspired, get out there and get involved. Figure out your beliefs, have discussions with others; practice respect and develop tolerance for other viewpoints. Try to prioritize one cause and connect with others who share your passion. As anthropologist Margaret Meade said, never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
4. Practice gratitude. It’s hard to be negative while you’re being thankful! This will change your day and perhaps open your heart. What do you bless or honor in yourself? In others? Remind yourself how lucky you are every day, even if it’s just the small stuff. A smile from someone; a sunset, people you love, that great cup of coffee…endless possibilities here!
5. Own Your Power. Point your focus in a direction where you feel powerful, not powerless. Where can you feel your strength and stand up to the politics of fear that are all over the media? Where can you feel calm, safe, and quiet? Try deep breathing or meditation; activate your spiritual self. Walk in nature, notice the clouds, listen to inspiring music, go to a museum. Be awed. Unplug. Spending a little “me” time can ground you, steady your brain and reboot your spirit.
Finally, decide what gives you life and feeds your energy. Go with that. Be the boss of you!
Louise Dimiceli-Mitran is a counselor and music psychotherapist in Chicago. Sign up to receive her blog by visiting www.rhythmswithin.com.