If you regularly feel overwhelmed, saddened, or just plain mad at the constant barrage of negative news, you are not alone. And I’m here to tell you, you don’t just have to sit there and take the bombardment.
Instead, give yourself permission to step away and use mindfulness to shift into a more comfortable state of being.
Take a Technology Holiday.
Power off your phone, leave your television and computer screens off, and give yourself the gift of some quiet, reflective time. You may want to write in a journal, take a walk in nature, or spend some quality time with people you love. However you spend this time, experience it fully without turning on your tech. Get grounded into the experience of being fully present in your body and your life.
Take some time alone and allow yourself to drop down into your current emotional state and see what’s there, not judging it but simply observing it with curiosity. This is the heart of what mindfulness is all about. It takes practice, but pretty soon you will be able to tune in to your body and notice what’s happening inside you.
Evidence shows that putting your hand over your heart — or wherever you most find it soothing — taps into the body’s mammalian caregiver response and releases oxytocin and opiates in your brain to counteract cortisol, the stress hormone. Try different spots out on yourself and see what works best for you.
Practice Loving Kindness on Yourself.
Ask yourself what you really need to hear right now. Do you need to be told you are loved? Safe? Healthy? Strong? Whatever you most need to hear right now, create a Loving Kindness phrase and repeat it as a mantra to yourself. You can do this in seated meditation, but you can also do it on a walk, in the car, at the office, in line at the DMV, or anywhere else you need to. Try this out next time you feel stressed and see how much it helps.
If a whole day unplugged seems daunting, how about a three-hour time block?
And as for not watching TV, if you are watching a heartwarming movie or funny TV series — stories that fill you up with joy, not stress — there’s no need to unplug from that. That’s where discernment comes in. I advocate unplugging from the TV if you are a news junky, but not if you feel like watching “When Harry Met Sally” again.