Its been a rough week in the news to say the least. It is a terrible thing that acts of mass violence continue to occur around the country. I feel for the people directly affected by this, and those who are starting to see the world differently because of it.
What I am starting to notice is that my own view of the world has taken a hit this week. The amount of input and exposure to the shootings this past week is overwhelming; without asking or investigating in any way myself, I have learned a lot of details of the horrors that occurred. It is force-fed to me through the news on TV, the news on the radio, and of course through Social Media. And its not just that the tragedies are still front and center, but all of the fighting around it is wearing on me too. Gun control, legislative actions that need to be taken, grandstanding for personal gain from our politicians, the list goes on. Calls of racism, malice, ignorance, and lots of other personal perspectives being broadcast as loose truths about the world. It’s a lot of noise to deal with, and I need a breather. So I am taking one.
Anxiety issues run in my family, and I am still not sure if I have them and do a decent job of managing it, or if I just have a far less severe version of it. But its times like this that I feel that anxiety pushing its way to the surface. I can feel an internal weight that is not usually there; it sits on my lungs and makes me have to work just a little harder to take a deep breath, like it is squeezing my insides. I find myself needing a reminder to smile, instead of that being my default look. So, one of my coping strategies is to unplug for a bit. I am not going to look at any Social Media the rest of the day. I’ll only listen to music in the car instead of news. I need to get back to the gym, as I have been slacking on this. All of these things will help me find my equilibrium again, as they always do. In their own way, each of these things helps me deal with the fact that the world can be a rough place at times.
Now, I don’t want to turn a blind eye to what goes on in the world, and I don’t want to leave problems for others to solve. But at the moment, I can tell I just need a break. I am entitled to do so, as are you. I have no obligation to stay plugged into the 24 hour news cycle and the inundation of Social Media on these topics. I am controlling the input.
There is a lot of positive in the world, likely far more than there is negative, if you look for it. I sit at Starbucks almost every day and write for about an hour. In that time I see many of the same people day after day. They smile at me and others, hold doors for people they don’t know, and say thank you to the baristas on a regular basis. To me, its the little things that measure how our society is doing, that micro look as a sliver of the macro. Until these basic courtesies start to erode, I am not going to grow concerned. There is plenty of good or bad to be found, and whichever one you are looking for, you are very likely to find. Control the input.
The other thing I will focus a little more attention on is listening to speakers and YouTube videos of people with a message that inspires me, focuses on the positive, and keeps me in the right frame of mind. I have lots to do, a long list of things I want to accomplish, and dwelling on negative things is not going to get me where I want to go. I don’t think I need to go full blown Tony Robbins to snap me out of my current state, I’ll save that for real emergencies…
Any time you find the world is getting to be a little much for you to take, step back for a second and take a deep breath. For me, that is usually sufficient. But like I said, I don’t think I have real anxiety issues like some others do. There is help all around, so if you need it, ask for it. You are not alone. Schools have counseling services, the company you work for may have a Behavioral Health line you can access, and most cities and counties have mental health and crisis hotlines that are free to anyone. Not just suicide hotlines, either, but general mental health and wellness options for you to speak with someone when you need to. In the small city where I live adjacent to Phoenix, there is a “crisis van” that serves the community. It spends more time in homes where domestic violence has occurred, or a fire has displaced a family, but part of its function is to connect you to local resources for things like what I am speaking of here. There are way more resources available than most people are ever aware of.
My takeaway message is obviously this: Control the Input. You are the one with the power button on your devices, and if you need to turn them off on occasion, do it. Exercise the option to check out once in a while; give your FOMO a rest, everything will still be here when you get back. Be mindful of your own mental health and well being, because you’re the only one who can see into your brain to know what is going on in there. Get help if you need it, it is there to be accessed when necessary. THAT is a sign of strength, not weakness. Weakness is hiding from the problems, strength is facing them, even if you need help to do so.
Take care of yourself, so that you can then take care of others too.