How To Keep Up With The News Without Going Crazy
We may be only four months into President Donald Trump's administration, but it sure feels like four years, doesn't it? It seems like every week — if not every day — there's a new development to be concerned about. Headlines tell us about Trump's scary executive orders, his sudden firing of staff, or even the GOP's new terrifying health care plans. Alone, these things may be manageable to deal with, but taken together (and so frequently), it's a lot for anyone to handle. That's why it's important to think about how to practice self-care in an overwhelming news cycle.
It's difficult to remember a time when simply watching or reading the news of the day wasn't essentially considered sadistic. While it is important to be aware of what's going on in the world, the events taking place in Trump's administration have real negative effects on people's lives and therefore are more scary to pay attention to.
If you rely on Obamacare for your health insurance and it has helped you afford treatment, you may wince watching Republicans pass the AHCA in the House of Representatives. Or if you or someone you know is an immigrant, Trump's travel ban executive orders may have caused a panic. These are real and valid emotions, and they can be managed so that they don't take over your life.
Self-care doesn't have to be synonymous with the famous Parks and Recreation holiday, "Treat Yo Self Day"; it could be as simple as planning out how you're going to fit news into your daily routine. It's not an easy thing to do, but practicing self-care during this stressful time is extremely important. Besides, if you aren't taking care of yourself and your own needs during this tumultuous time, how can you step up to fight for others when their liberty is at stake?
Below, I've detailed some ways you can avoid becoming overwhelmed in the news cycle each day.
Place A Time Limit On Your News Consumption
A great way to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed is by limiting your consumption from the start. Depending on your schedule, you can decide to take 15-minute news updates several times per day, or longer — 30 minutes to an hour — once a day to be updated on what's going on. Once the time is up, put your phone away or turn off the TV. You'll get a dose of the news without spending too much time analyzing every piece of information and letting it fester.
Newsletters are an excellent resource when it comes to summarizing information from around the web. Bustle's daily The Bustle Huddle is also a quick and useful way to check in on what's happening and what Bustle is taking about.
Know That You Don't Have To Listen To Everyone
There is a difference between wanting to be informed on what the opposite side is saying and being pulled into the rage machine. If you, like I am, are enraged by Tucker Carlson, make a decision to not watch his videos, or limit how many you watch. Recognize that you can still be informed about a topic without getting too wrapped up in the extreme pundits' dangerous or misogynistic views. Yes, it is important to consider the viewpoints of those who may have different experiences than you do, but there are less stressful ways to do so.
If you're looking for a round-up of conservative takes, Slate has a great column called "Today In Conservative Media" dedicated the right's viewpoints. That way, you can know what's being discussed without having to dig through all the vitriol.
Be Conscious About Your Choices
Deciding on what news you're going to consume and how you'll consume it ahead of time can help prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. If you know you can handle reading a few newsletters summing up the day's stories, do that. If you go on Facebook and see your Trump-loving relative constantly posting Breitbart articles, maybe it's time to unfollow her posts on your feed. Any little adjustments you can make to reduce your frustration is a step in the right direction.
Recognize When You Need To Walk Away
It's good to feel anger about some news. It means that you are human, and may be compassionate, empathetic, and concerned. However, if you find yourself ruminating for long periods of time about pieces of news and can no longer concentrate on your daily life, it's time to take a break. You may want to help those who are affected by the news, but it's a lot harder to help anyone if you don't have a clear head and are not able to produce ideas and solutions.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
Maybe you're trying to justify your unhealthy consumption by saying, "But I'm not included in the group of people being discriminated against, all I'm doing is reading about it!" That doesn't mean it can't affect you emotionally. You don't have to feel bad about feeling overwhelmed, but when it starts affecting your life, it's time to do something about it.
You can be active in resting and staying informed and involved without it becoming debilitating. Keeping that balance takes time, but is worth it. Even if Trump gets impeached, there are others who will step up to the plate to push harmful agendas (like Vice President Mike Pence), and truly, the fight will continue. We're all in this for the long haul, so self-care is essential.