Personally, I think there is a lot that the average person can do, and that is to simply pay much closer attention to how much TV and other screen time we spend looking at, and reading about the latest terrorist bombing, police shooting, or other tragedies that are dominating so much of the news these days.
Bear in mind, I am NOT saying we should bury our head in the sand and ignore what’s going on in the world! Not at all. Rather, I am simply suggesting that I think it’s important to limit the amount of time one spends watching these events. Remember the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out”? I think this is similar. In their retirement, my late parents used to watch CNN all day long, and then wonder why they were depressed!
And this was roughly 20 years ago, before the news REALLY starting getting bad and also before technology allowed us to keep up with what’s going on, wherever we are, 24/7. I’ll bet they’d be even more emotionally distraught today!
It’s true that it can be very convenient to catch up on the latest headlines while you’re en route somewhere. Certainly this isn’t a bad thing.
But again, it is so incredibly easy today to overdo it. Let’s say you’re thumbing through your smartphone or tablet for the umpteenth time and see a picture of ambulances amidst what appears to be utter chaos, “Egads, another shooting,” you think. Before long, you’re scrolling again and see a post by…. You fill in the blank … and think, “I can’t believe what that dumb politician just said – I’m so mad!”
Keeping one’s thoughts to oneself is easier said than done, too, so you angrily, impulsively post a comment, “Can you believe …..? Why would anyone vote for …?!” Interestingly, I’ve noticed of late that numerous people on Facebook are imploring people to cut the negativity and keep their political beliefs to themselves. (I’m guilty of political musings, but with posts like that in mind, I’ve made a resolution of being much more careful about what I say.)
A healthy exchange of ideas can be a very good thing, but again there’s limits. Overdo it and the next thing you know you’re growing excessively worried and anxious without grasping that you probably brought a lot of it on yourself! Change the channel! Scroll to more positive events and happenings on your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or other page.
Here’s a few other quick ideas:
1) For every tragedy you read about, try to balance it with something more pleasant: an updated cover picture on a friend’s Facebook page, a cute joke, an insightful quote, the list goes on. The intent is to help give you a more balanced view of the world, and not grow overly cynical or negative.
2) Numerically limit the number of times each day you spend on your smartphone, tablet, pad, or other device. Set a number that might realistically work for you: let’s say… three times…morning, noon, and when you get out of work. This number would be but one possibility.
The point is, many of us, myself included, are guilty of checking and rechecking our favorite device more often than we think, and actually counting these incidents would bring to greater attention just how many times each day we’re absorbed on our “screens.”
Whatever it is, I think it’s vital to do something, anything, to cut back on our exposure to today’s events. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that our collective mental health depends on it.