Protecting Your Spirit When Bad News Takes Its Toll
In June 2016, I began writing a daily blog. It was an opinion blog, based off the monologue portion of Arsenio Hall’s late-night show, where he joked about “things that make me go hmmm.” I loved his talk show, hell, I even dreamed of being a guest on it one day in the future of what I was sure would be a huge acting career. The acting career didn’t happen for me, so as a recovering actress, I decided to settle with channeling a little part of him into my creative world via my blog.
The theme of my blog was “Things that make me go hmmm.” The topics ranged from things that were happening around me, either in my own personal life or how something in the news impacted me that day. My daily routine was the same: wake up, perform my morning rituals and then sit down at my laptop and iPhone to scour social media, along with online news outlets for the one headline that made me go “hmmm” the most.
I did this for more than two years.
And then my time was up.
You see, I’m a little bit like Reese’s Pieces candy. Hard on the outside, and soft on the inside. The weight of sifting through the news and the racket on social media every single day began to take its toll on me. Never mind that portion of my “job” but then came the essential part of spending hours on social media to promote my work, to get likes, views and gain traction for my blog. It became evident that all that time focusing on bad news, sad news, and trying to propel my brand forward was having an adverse, and negative effect on me. I found it harder to see the beauty in life and the world around me at large. I noticed that I didn’t sleep as well, that I didn’t laugh from the bottom of my soul quite as easily.
Life had lost its luster. Its beauty. Its charm. My head and spirit were overflowing with heart-wrenching truths of innocent lives being lost. Parents burying their children. Women losing their rights at the hands of the current American political administration. I was sad too often. I even began feeling ill, having symptoms of sickness and exhaustion that no amount of exercise or rest could right.
It didn’t take me long to connect the dots. The huge negative shift in my internal wellness was stemming from my focus on filling my spirit with all the current events in order to write about one hot topic from the news every single day. Once I made the correlation I tried to flip the tone of my blog to one of spreading good news, but I quickly learned that there wasn’t a whole lot of that being reported. That is unless I wanted to spend my days watching videos of babies giggling and dogs flying in helicopters, which isn’t exactly clickbait- worthy content. It became obvious to me that in order for me to really turn my mental wellness around, it was time to hang it up. I knew that I had hit my breaking point and that a decision needed to be made about how I would conduct myself in these high stakes, high emotional toll news days.
You see it is a delicate dance, isn’t it? Balancing out the need for self-care with the risk of naivety. We must be able to hold an intelligent conversation in any and all public settings. We should be able to interject when in a social gathering, something that is timely about the state of the world, whether it be cannabis in Canada, gun control in the States, or NAFTA. So, the question becomes, how do we stay informed, educated, without sacrificing our own mental health, if like me you’re a little hard on the outside but soft on the inside?
Well, for starters you can try what I did which was limit your daily exposure. We’re all built and wired differently, you may be able to watch CNN all day long and not feel any differently about Trump or escalating violence or the thousands of migrants marching from Honduras in an attempt to get to the American border. You may be able to sleep soundly at night no matter what the news outlets throw your way, and to that I say “praise God, lucky you!” And I mean that sincerely. But, if you’re like me, and this stuff truly weighs down your spirit then if I may, I would like to share some lifestyle changes that I implemented, and that have worked beautifully for me:
1) The way to start a fabulous new day, and to make sure you have your wits about protecting your spirit, is to ensure that you get a good night’s rest. So, make healthy sleep a priority.
2) Begin your day with thoughtful mindfulness. Giving thanks and setting your intentions for how you are going to feel for the day. Set a focus of what you will achieve in your eight, or more hours that you allot to your career. Do this before you even leave your bed.
3) Exercise. It always sets your mood in a positive way. I mean, Elle Woods said it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
4) Limit your time that you spend reading negative news. I personally had to stop following a ton of accounts in order to protect myself from seeing too much of the news that upset me. I also only allow myself to read one “bad news” headline story per day.
5) Spend time with positive people. Even though it all seems dire and out of our control, and like the world might not ever be put right again, surround yourself with others who know that with great challenge comes incredible growth. Who remind you that the only place to go from what feels like the bottom, is up. Share good news with them, and then share good news on your own social media feeds.
Eventually, I believe if more of us are focused on spreading good news, love, light and faith, then one day, in the not too distant future, the world will shine brightly once again. That maybe, just maybe when we are all focused on all that is still beautiful, worthy and wonderful about our planet, and the fellow humans living on it we will have a place where love and peace are what we read about and how we live. It all starts with us. We all have the power within ourselves to be the beacon of hope our world needs.