We live in interesting times... and pretty tough ones. Perhaps our remote ancestors would disagree, given the physical challenges they put up with every day of their lives. But being in instant communication with your entire planet is no picnic either, is it? How much profound shock and wrenching emotional whiplash do the newsfeeds deliver minute by minute? As in, now you get to enter the U.S., oh no you don't, oh yes you do, nope, you don't, but maybe you might... or, now your job is safe, oh no it's not, but yes, here's a loophole, no, sorry, loophole closed...
How do we keep our footing on this twisting, gyrating news-raft careening down the turbulent river of instant updates? Well, here are some things you can do:
1. Minimize the media input.
There are two ways to do this while still staying in touch with national and world events.
First, if you can—news is very addictive, and bad news even more so—try a “media diet”: limit your exposure to nightly news to, say, once or twice a week.
Will this put you behind the times? Probably not, actually. Those of us who have no TVs seem to learn as much as we really need to know from selective online exposure, or just a friend or two we’ve delegated to let us know what we truly need to know.
Second, switch to a “cooler” medium like the printed word, online or on paper, and avoid the visuals and “live” reports. Why? Because our hind-brains are hardwired to respond more urgently to moving figures and human voices than to black-and-white squiggles on a page or screen. Try out an online news service for headline news, then read (selectively) the articles but don’t activate any accompanying videos.
An additional benefit: YOU get to choose what you’ll pay attention to, instead of having your senses hypnotically captured by one disaster or controversy after another. Your nervous system will thank you!
2. Get physical.
Join a gym. Dance. Walk, run or jog. If your house has stairs, use them as an impromptu Stairmaster. Two major, major benefits here for your beleaguered nervous system:
Benefit Number One: oxygen. The more you oxygenate your system, the more neurotransmitters like serotonin you’ll have access to. Among many other things, NTs help your cerebral cortex get in on the act of processing incoming data, giving you time to pause and choose a response rather than reacting instantly from the ole hind-brain.
Benefit Number Two: detoxing. I’ve so often had people tell me, “Watching the news makes me feel sick.” Yep. Even when we think we’re not reacting to on-screen horror and violence, our bodies haven’t received that particular memo and go on pouring out the adrenaline anyway. And if those homegrown toxic chemicals stay in the body, we all know what by now what that does! The sweating and increased kidney function you experience after a good workout will help the toxic byproducts of those fight-or-flight hormones leave the body faster, and your mind as well as your body can return to a resting state.
3. Keep your personal energy clear.
Other people’s “stuff” assails us over the airwaves every time we sit in rapt contemplation of a newscast. See my February 13 post, Resetting Your Energy Field, for a simple visualization to help you establish and check your energy boundaries.
4. Clear your hidden triggers.
Having an extreme reaction to something on the news? Some neuroscientists posit that over 99 percent of our reactions to a current event are being unconsciously influenced by past experiences. When news events begin to haunt you, keeping you awake at night or pushing your disaster-story buttons, consider an inner-work session to locate and clear any past traumas, unconscious beliefs or outdated decisions that are feeding the fires. Try out some Journeywork, for instance; I specialize in helping people clean out that old unfinished business.