It goes without saying that this week has been heavy. My brain recoils and my heart plummets with images and videos I’ve seen, and I deeply wish the average Israeli and Palestinian people, who are not the Israeli government or Hamas, were spared from being pawns in this horrific game. Peace feels so elusive, but I long and hope for it.
And I want to help you maintain your own sanity and as much peace of mind as we can right now. I’m a huge advocate of taking action on issues you care about and someone who wants all of us to enjoy our lives as much as we can – no matter the circumstances.
So, let’s talk about some practical strategies to do that.
Strategy 1. Decide if and how you want to take action so that you know when you’re done
I’m not here to add more to your plate today. I’m actually trying to free you up from feeling the constant need to take action, so stick with me for a minute…
Decide what action you want to take, if any. This will help you know (1) when you’re going to do the thing (use your calendar), and (2) when you’re done – at least for today.
For example, are you going to reach out to friends who are affected? Is this a one-time thing or something you want to do every day or every few days? Are you going to donate to an organization? If it makes sense, use your calendar to remind yourself to do these things and show your brain when you’ll do them so it knows it does not need to think about them all the time to remember to do them.
Strategy 2. Know when your attention is no longer constructive.
A lot of us (including me) tend doom-scroll the news and social media right now. I might go on Instagram intending to take a quick, light break, and 45 minutes later, I’m still scrolling, feeling incredibly stressed out, depressed about the world, and spiraling.
BUT THAT’S JUST HURTING ME AND NOT HELPING ANYONE.
Once you’ve taken the action you’re going to take for today (see strategy 1), realize that any further news-binging and doom-scrolling is not constructive – and it’s actually harmful to you. It’s making you feel awful without a reason in that it’s not pushing you to take action (you’ve already taken action) and, at that point, all it’s doing is causing a negative impact on your emotional and physical wellbeing.
We need to stop – and we need to help ourselves stop. Which brings us to strategy 3…
Strategy 3. Take steps to help Future You spend her time in a more joyful way
I heard someone say once that we go on social media to let other people dictate what we think and feel.
In addition, the news and social media are designed to keep you reading and stuck in their apps/sites – so we jump on and spend way more time and energy than intended letting other people dictate our thoughts and emotions.
So, when you’re going through phases where you notice yourself being on Instagram for five minutes before you’ve even realized you opened the app, consider doing these things:
- Delete Instagram and other social media apps for a period of time (e.g., the rest of today, the whole weekend, two weeks, indefinitely). They’re super easy to reload whenever you decide to get back on, so don’t worry about that (so long as you have your passwords). I’ve found moving them to a different screen insufficient – I need them off my phone. I personally delete Instagram from Friday at 5pm to Sunday evening most weekends and have been deleting it often right now – jumping on for work 1-3 times a day and deleting it the rest of the time so that it can’t suck me in.
- Consider doing the same for news apps. At the very least, turn off news notifications. You do not need real-time news alerts. Even the prospect of getting that alert will keep you glancing at your phone (and fragmenting your day) more than you want. The news is horrific right now and triggers a ton of very intense emotions – don’t let yourself be at the whim of that. Turn off the notifications and limit your news intake until you decide it’s the right time to check in (if at all).
- Unfollow or mute people on social media who really get you down. I’m not advocating for creating an echo chamber – I’m all for having productive conversations with people with differing opinions. BUT we all know that not everyone with a different opinion is going to provide you with thought-provoking posts and conversations – just anger. Remove those people/posts from your feed.
- Plan other things you want to do that bring you joy. For example, during this phase of life, I don’t watch much tv, but my husband and I are currently watching Beckham on Netflix. The all-consuming focus on something lighter and interesting is something not to be knocked right now.
- (And this one is a bit random for this list but still helpful) If you get in bed and your brain races with very depressing and anxiety-inducing thoughts (hi – it’s me), consider using meditation apps to quiet your mind and help you go to sleep. I use Insight Timer – the free version – and love it.
- (And while we’re being random…) As I’ve shared on this podcast episode (Apple; Spotify), I’ve really cut back my drinking of alcohol. One reason is its depressive effects, and during times when the world feels really depressing, it’s nice not to add fuel to the fire. Take it or leave it – just wanted to share.
Doing all of this will not only protect you from that harmful, not-constructive scrolling – it’ll help free up time and energy to focus on things that bring you joy, such as listening to a fun audiobook, getting outside, coloring with kids, having a conversation with your partner about something funny that happened today, and more.
Alright, that’s it for now.
I know these strategies aren’t perfect. It’s a heavy time, and I’m emotionally down outside of my action-taking windows. But I’m down a lot more when I get sucked into social media and news articles. My goal is not to check out entirely – I want to be an active and engaged citizen who makes this country and world better for my daughters. But I also want to enjoy my life – my family, my friends, my career, and the things I like to do on my own. They’re no glory in martyring our own happiness beyond anything constructive. And I can’t do both at the same time in the same minutes. I have to get intentional about how I divvy up my time to do both – just not at the same time.
Knowing there are many others like me out there, just wanted to share the above in case it’s helpful to you. Good luck, and take care of yourself.