A friend shared an article that talked about election stress disorder and headline stress disorder. Both of those rang true for me.
I feel the shift in my body when I see the headlines for the news and subject lines in my inbox. Words and phrases like - chaos....never before....this could be the end...collapse.... - catapult me into a tizzy. It starts as a jolt through my heart that leads to a racing feeling and the sensation of heat rising and stiffness in my body. I'm agitated.
None of this is good for me, or you, or any of us. And yet, it's so easy to get sucked in. I lost hours of my life earlier this month scrolling through the news in the search for a glimmer of hope that only left me feeling more anxious with uncertainty.
With my face buried in my phone, my husband asks me a question and I snap at him. It's not what he said, I'm mad because of what I just read and that energy needs to be released somehow. It's unfair. Not only that it isn't how I want to show up. I apologize but that's not satisfactory for me because it will likely happen again unless I do something about the underlying problem.
So, I take to my journal to process my feelings about all the information I've been consuming. Trying to make sense of it all and how I want to show up - I want to be an informed citizen, a good citizen, a contributing member of society, present to my family. But the information I've been ingesting just makes me bark at those I love.
It's not enriching my life. If anything, it's negatively influencing me. Closing me down. Getting sucked in to the news and headlines places me somewhere between determined to fight and completely deflated. Who am I helping if I'm frozen with rage?
As I journal, I ask myself, "What am I striving for here?"
While I process that line of inquiry the answer becomes painfully obvious. "Ignore this...."
As a society we've turned into receptive containers for consuming information that's sole purpose is to manipulate and control us. As long as we stay mindlessly engaged with our screens, clicking from one article to the next we are compromising our future well-being for a hit of dopamine in the moment.
So I begin to explore what it is I will consciously ignore moving forward. I'm trained to spot content that manipulates my neurochemistry and triggers a fear state, those are the emails I unscubscribe from first. Culling my sources of information, consciously choosing what to ignore, which is most things, and what to invite into my life, which is a select few.
It is not a perfect system, but I am at the helm once again. No longer blindly falling down the rabbit hole of desperate doomscrolling. No longer losing hours of my life searching for answers that don't exist and a certainty that only lives in fairy tales.
With it being so painfully obvious that there's so much beyond my control, seizing the moment by directing my attention is a simple yet powerful way for me to claim my agency here and now.
Are you feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by the news? There's still time to register online for the Journal Jam this afternoon - join us, claim your agency and find hope!