2017 has been a doozy of a year. Disastrous news breaks daily – sometimes hourly. Our country is struggling to figure out who we will be – will we stand for what we believe in, or cower in fear?
If you’re a sensitive type, the news right now is overwhelming. When it comes on top of a long work day, plus all the other responsibilities that I’m sure you’re juggling, it can be downright soul-corroding. How do we engage meaningfully with the news without letting it completely wreck us? How do we protect our energy without checking out?
Because the temptation to check out may be strong. To isolate ourselves in the name of self-preservation.
But that way is not the way, my friend. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Our country is at a crossroads, and we cannot check out. Not now. This is too important.
But we also cannot watch the news and let it perforate or paralyze us. We cannot let the evils of our current time rob us of the joy, hope, and optimism that will fuel our resistance.
Here’s how to protect your energy without checking out:
- Control your media intake. Consider reading the news instead of watching it. You can control how much you take in; and reading it in black and white may not activate your stress response in the same way the serious newscaster voice and the sound of shouting and explosions does.
- Check the news at certain pre-decided times of day – say, morning, afternoon, and evening. For those of you who are counting, that’s three times a day (instead of seventy-three times). Turn off news notifications on your phone. You might not hear the news as it breaks – but unless your job depends on that, it’s okay.
- Take time to unplug. Spend one whole evening per week or one whole weekend day without news.
- Volunteer for or donate to causes you believe in. If you don’t have time or money, at the very least, sign petitions and share the work of organizations you admire on social media. Standing with those who fight for justice instead of just complaining about all the injustice empowers you.
- Find people with whom you can talk constructively. Instead of complaining or increasing each other’s anxiety, talk with people who are well-informed and willing to have an open conversation. Our church, for example, is holding a discussion group this summer about current events. People hold different political ideologies, but they care for one another and they have a calm, level-headed facilitator (my husband!) to guide them.
- Give yourself time and space to feel your feelings. Especially after tragedies. Turn off the TV and turn inward. How are you feeling? What are you thinking? Send your thoughts and prayers to those who are suffering most. If you are a super advanced spiritual person, try praying for the president. (I struggle with this, personally; but truly, it must be miserable to be that paranoid.)
- Follow people who engage with the news in a constructive way. Try Anna Kunnecke’s free resource: how to be on the right side of history even if you’re ridiculously busy. I also took Patti Digh’s online course on racism and I found it immensely helpful.
- Be the change you wish to see. Here’s a concrete example – don’t ever let racist comments slide. Whether in line at the grocery store, at a family reunion, or at the playground, speak up. ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE WHITE. We need to use our voices, people.
- Accept that you can’t change anyone’s mind or control anyone’s actions except your own. Speak your mind, but don’t waste valuable energy getting upset if people don’t agree with you or see your side. Keep working for what you believe is right, and hope that your actions will speak louder than your words. I love this essay by Addie Zierman: Why are People of Faith so Closed-Minded?
- Don’t check the news when you first wake up. Instead, read or listen to something positive for the first half hour of your day. Do something that centers you – read a short devotional, listen to music, write in your journal for ten minutes.
Do you have additional strategies to protect your energy in the current political climate without checking out? Share them in the comments!
August 27, 2017