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Mental Health in the Media Age

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Lately I’ve been feeling what I would call news fatigue.  I found myself utterly despondent one day, after reading the headlines that popped up on my laptop as I tried to check email.  I hit a point where I just couldn’t take any more bad news, any more horrific stories of what humans are doing to each other, any more articles about the abject suffering of others.

Out of curiosity, I googled and learned that “news fatigue” is an actual thing.  Not surprisingly, many of us are experiencing it.  It feels important to be informed, and yet, there is just too much information for us to ingest in a balanced way.

Add to that the general overload of social media information, and it can become stressful to try and keep clear of the overwhelm.  For example, I am friends with a few thousand people on Facebook, most of whom I honestly don’t know, or don’t remember how I might know them.  I’m certainly not close with all of them, but I can log in to my account at any given time and learn that someone’s grandmother has died, and what someone else ate for breakfast, while seeing that someone else is traveling abroad, and yet another person is breaking up with their significant other.

It’s truly an overload of information that I do not need to have in my awareness, every single day.  It’s great to keep up with friends, family and community, but social media brings us more “news” then we could ever possibly need (or want).

There are times when I check my email, and my email provider inundates me with headlines, many of which are incredibly disturbing, and sometimes atrociously violent and horrific.  I’m simply trying to get my messages, but first there is a barrage of negativity that is hard to miss, especially when the headlines share the most shocking aspects to get our attention.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course.  “If it bleeds, it leads” has long been the mantra of news publishers.  But it was very different when we were only getting our news from newspapers.  Today, you can watch the news, while a ticker of more news runs at the bottom of the screen, in a cab, in an elevator, in the grocery store, at the gas pump.  You can’t travel without TV screens everywhere blaring the news.  We are inundated daily, usually with bad news, and it’s exhausting.

I want to be informed… to a point.  I am aware that I create my experience, and one way I create an experience that feels supportive is by being intentional with what I allow into my system, into my energetic field.  This includes what books I read, what music I listen to, what food I eat, and what news/information I take in daily.

It’s important to allow ourselves to take a break from the barrage of headlines and what everyone else in the world is doing on their Facebook newsfeed, and reconnect with stillness and inner silence.  It’s vital to our health, including mental, spiritual and physical.  We cannot be constantly receiving negative information and vibrations, while also maintaining health.  We must step away for our own sanity.

It is not irresponsible to stop watching/reading the news.

It is not checking out or ignoring reality.

It is a healing practice that I encourage each of you to make part of your health regimen, just like doing a food detox or herbal cleanse.  Schedule an amount of time to detox and cleanse from social media, from too much information, from the negative projections of the world, and get back into alignment with your own energetic experience.  This will empower you to purposefully and intentionally write your own conscious stories, allowing you to manifest the journey you choose, instead of the stories of others thrown at you from a screen.

This is spiritual work in our modern age.

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News Detox:

Pick an amount of time that you feel you can really stick to.  If you feel you only handle one week, then start there.  If you really want to detox, try 30 days.  But 7 days is usually a good place to start.

Stay off of all social media, do not watch or read the news, and be mindful of movies, music and books to ensure they are spiritually oriented or soul supportive.

If you need to be on social media for work, then choose an amount of time that you allow yourself daily, and stick to that amount of time.  (Often we get sucked into the social media vortex and don’t even realize we just spent 30 minutes watching kitten videos.)

Remove social media from your phone in order to spend less time online.

Temporarily, or permanently, unsubscribe from news outlet emails and other subscriptions that don’t feel supportive to your mental health.

Unsubscribe from YouTube if you tend to get sucked into that vortex easily.  Videos are an easy way to get lost in media for hours on end.

Doing a news detox with a friend, or group of friends, is a great way to be held accountable and feel supported.

Find other things to do, especially when you want to check the news or see what’s going on online.  Read that book you’ve been meaning to read.  Take a walk.  Go work out.

Mostly, be aware of how what you are reading or watching FEELS in your body.  This is an indicator of if it would be helpful to take a break from it for the time being and see how it feels to allow yourself some space from that energy.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started.