If you have just had it with the flooding of opinions on Facebook and Twitter by now, you are not the only one. I too am experiencing social media fatigue after the Paris attacks. I am terribly sad about the lives lost and stand against all forms of oppression and terrorism, but at the end of the day, I must be true to my individual obligations and values which require me to remain at peace with myself. My utmost obligation is to myself and my family before I can carry the pain for the rest of the world.
Let's face it. There are a lot of sad and traumatic events occurring all across the globe. Children murdered, killed and molested, women are burnt and raped, and men are killed and mauled in acts of terrorism, barbarism and crime.
Each day, the news has tragic and depression information. It's all right at our fingertips, easily accessible and very immediate. Within hours, details of such tragedies bombard our brain and senses. It gets overwhelming. It's hard to turn off when it envelopes us completely.
This ongoing sadness and stress is capable of making a hole in our emotional reservoir. Every emotion has a cost and serious impact. When we enjoy things and spend time with those we love, we replenish our emotional resources with positive, loving energy. Every piece of distressing information robs us of our emotional energy. When we feel emotionally drained, we are likely to experience sadness, anxiety and fatigue. We can become disillusioned with the world and start losing interest in our own lives.
Among other things that cancer has taught me, I have learned to be very mindful of how and when I spend my emotional reserve. I have also become selective of what and who is deserving of this. Call it a bit narcissistic and selfish but I am more apt to walk away from drama and craziness that doesn't belong in my world. In that context I live in a constricted world than before and it's OK.
I am in no way encouraging insensitivity to social and emotional pain of others but one has to develop the ability of "zooming in" and "zooming out" of life.
By the time I finish writing this, it is likely someone got assaulted or killed somewhere in the world. It's infinitely sad that this is the kind of world we live in. Humans have become brutal and murderous. There is rage and hate all around us. But if one gets consistently preoccupied with every tragedy and every misfortune, it is likely to affect our mood in toxic and negative ways.
Here are ten suggestions I have to preserve your sanity in midst of bad news all around:
1) Practice gratitude: Take a mental note of all the things that you are thankful for and review all your blessings in your mind. This will distract you as well as have a positive effect on your mood. I use an app on my phone to log things I am grateful for each day. It keeps me grounded and adds to my happiness.
Thanksgiving is around the corner. Perhaps make gratitude jar and keep it in a visible place in your home and ask family members to write what they are thankful for every day and put it in. Then, at Thanksgiving dinner, pick out a few and read them aloud.
2) Recognize your limitations: You must realize that you have limits on what you can do and experience. You will still have to go home and cook a meal or attend a meeting or read for school even though someone died brutally in some country far away. Maintain focus on your individual goals and aspirations.
3) Practice compassion: You may not be able to influence ISIS or the Israel-Palestine conflict directly, but you sure can help someone right around you. Look for a way that you are helpful to others. Usually around holidays, there are many drives for turkey dinners or toys for tots. Sharing can be very emotionally rewarding. Make a donation; send some money to a charity that is close to your heart. This way you won't feel completely helpless and isolated rather connected to some greater good.
4) Try deep breathing or meditation: You can close your eyes for few minutes, visualize a positive image and send good vibes to those you fear are suffering. If you are a religious person, pray for the folks you want good to come to. Strong faith carries a lot of healing power, utilize it. Journaling is another way to cope with overwhelming emotions. Some people find coloring quite relaxing.
5) Make sure you get a good night's sleep: A restful night's sleep can do wonders for mood and the soul. Make sure you get away from the screens two hours prior to your bedtime. Take time to unwind and prepare ahead what you need the next morning so that worry doesn't interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Should you wake up in the middle of the night, don't check your phone for email or facebook. This has an activating effect on the brain and will interfere with your ability to fall back asleep.
6) Try listening to some music: Music has a very soothing and calming effect on a distressed mind. Listen to few favorite tunes and turn off the news. Better yet, go for a walk while listening to music. This will help clear your mind and engage your other senses. Exercise increase the blood flow in the brain and that will interrupt the recurring loop of negative thoughts.
7) Smile at others: You will be amazed how much positive energy you can gather just by smiling at others. Maintain perspective, one person can still make a difference.
8) Put the phone aside: Log out of the app that you are addicted to. If there is too much bad news, take a break from FB or Twitter. Try avoiding discussions that lead now where. People are a sum of their past and present, a two hour discussion on face book will not change their perspective but it may possibly ruin your friendship with them. Watching the same information over and over again on TV can also be draining. Pick one news show that you really like, set a timer and after the transmission is done, get up and walk away.
9) Call a friend or family member you have been thinking about: Never underestimate connecting with people that make you feel good about yourself. Hearing a loved one's voice carries a joy that texts can hardly convey. Social connections are emotional fuel. Replenish often.
10) Believe in yourself and your abilities:You may not be able to make a change today but that's alright. If you are honest and committed to a cause, an opportunity will arise that will translate into action.
Life is a dynamic situation, navigating each day is indeed hard work but there is beauty in life and in every moment. If you are not paying attention or distracted by negativity, you will miss the real treasures, the ones that linger in the memory for a long time, and the ones that make life truly meaningful.
Le vie Est Belle ! Life is Beautiful.