You can only afford to care so much

I’ve always been a person who felt so much all at once, which isn’t a bad thing, but it can cause problems when I’m not feeling great. You turn on the news and see some horrific scenes and feel helpless about the state of the world. Next you step outside only to be confronted with strangers along the street yelling at you or telling you to smile more. Next you pick up your phone or a newspaper with an article of how the planet is experiencing climate change at such a rapid rate it could lead to extinction of the human race. How can anyone have a good day after bombarding themselves with those things day in and day out?

About a year ago I made an active effort to limit my consumption of news. That was a much more difficult decision than I ever expected. I didn’t consider myself a news junkie by any means but I felt it was important to keep myself informed on what was happening with the world. The problem was I was starting to feel so hopeless about the future and in a constant state of frustration that other people weren’t doing anything about it. I still believe being informed is important but it’s not worth making yourself miserable. At the end of the day you’re no good to the movements you care about if you’re feeling down and hopeless. This isn’t to say I avoid news completely, that’s not realistic for my life. I do however, limit my news intake to only on days where I’m feeling mentally strong enough to handle some bad news and I’ve stopped reading or watching the news right when I wake up.

I’m not necessarily just talking about newspapers either, I don’t read from local news sites, these are posts from my friends on Facebook or Instagram posts or YouTube news shows that I’ve subscribed to over the years such as Last Week Tonight. I purposely limit the amount of time I’m allowed to see this type of content because although I enjoy the way this content is delivered in more of a humorous way to offset the stress of the story, it still affects me in a very strong way. I’m not suggesting that others put their heads in the sand in an effort to feel happier but I do think limiting what you expose yourself to throughout the day can help with the feeling of hopelessness.

It’s been repeated multiple times that the younger generations are feeling more hopeless about the future than any other generation before, and it’s no wonder why. We have so much access to the things going on in the world and bad news gets more shares and clicks that positive stories do. We are constantly bombarded with crises and injustices, which can be so disheartening it’s hard to feel any hope for the future.

Of course there is always hope for the future and resigning ourselves to inevitable misery helps no one. It’s really difficult to control all the inputs we receive daily, or at least it can seem that way. The “digital detox” has been increasing in popularity as more and more content creators share their experiences of needing to remove themselves from outside sources of information to preserve their mental health. There is something to be said about sitting in the moment and only focusing on what is around you. If you’d like to read more about digital detox you can read a previous article here.

On top of spending less energy on reading and interacting with unpleasant stories I have also taken the time to work meditation into my routine. Though many people claim meditation doesn’t work for them I strongly suggest reading about transcendental meditation. While most people struggle with clearing their mind completely when they start meditation, this technique gives you something to focus on and it has by far made a meditation believer out of this once non-believer.

Sometimes we get so caught up in keeping up with everyone and everything that we can forget that we can tailor the things that come into our lives and the things that don’t. If there’s an account that’s always sharing awful stories and it makes you stressed, it’s probably a good idea to simply unfollow them. Now, if we’re talking about a friend or a relative that we don’t feel we can unfollow without causing some tension, most sites now have a feature called mute. Mute allows you to remain friends with the account but you will no longer see their content unless you specifically go to their page. It’s genius.

Quite often people feel guilty about just removing stressful people or content from their lives and we really shouldn’t feel bad about protecting our mental health. There’s only so much we as individuals can do ( which we should always strive to do our best to help when we can). Eventually, though, we burn out. Whether it’s emotion fatigue or depression, everyone has their limits and it’s important to know where yours are. We’re no good to any cause when we’ve complete deteriorated.

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