'Good evening everyone, thank-you for joining us and welcome to the six o'clock news. Here are the main headlines.'
*tap papers on the desk*
Impending war, terrorism, a housing crisis, rise in homelessness, rise in hate crimes, mass murders, armed robberies...To sum up, the world is in bloody crisis and is doomed. Find a place to hide and stay there. Have a lovely evening and good night.'
Okay, so that last line is never actually said by the newsreaders, but sometimes you feel they might aswell say it. It's a constant barrage of negativity and catastrophe that we're fed through our lovely TV's via the news channels, the newspapers on every corner, and social media that's easily acessible at every turn. It's a constant bombardment.
A few years ago when I was in Ghana at Takoradi airport waiting for my flight in the departures lounge, I looked up at the TV screen which was broadcasting the current international news stories. Although it was on mute the images were so powerful that narration wasn't necessarily required. It was all focusing on subjects such as civil wars, terrorism, natural disasters, racial tensions and divides, murder, and rioting. I thought to myself at that moment that if someone had been in a coma for the last twenty years of their life and switched the TV on you couldn't blame them for thinking that the world was about to end. That's how the news portrays it, and it is relentless!
Not only that, it's tiring. Really damn tiring.
Every time I read a news article or watched something on TV related to world affairs it just took the wind out of my sails. It started reducing me to keep asking the questions; 'Well whats the point in life? It's all going tits up by the look of it! I am only one person, what positive difference can I make? The world really is going to the dogs!'
Have you ever felt the same way?
Recently I came across a wonderful book called The Empathy Instinct by Peter Bazalgette, and read the following;
'One difficulty with empathy is the challenge of extending it to large groups of people, devoid of particular human characteristics we can identify with, better than we do to the plight of many... Attempting to identify with a population could lead to feelings of powerlessness or mental exhaustion. This has been called empathetic burn-out.'
(Peter Bazalgette - 'The Empathy Instinct; How To Create A More Moral Code')
Spot on Peter.
This summed up nicely everything I've been feeling in the last couple of years.
I felt like I was being drained of my of my internal energy, my essence, my core, my zest for life! Yes, we all know that life isn't all sweetness and roses. Its a tough and hard place, and having studied human rights and genocide at Masters level I've definitely had my fair share of endless amounts of reading in seeing the worst that humanity can do to itself.
But recently it's all felt too much. The bad news is all around us. It's everywhere. Although I know there's an abundance of good out there in the world too, there's hardly enough reflection of this in the mass media to help balance out the negative stories and reports we constantly see and read.
The news wasn't working for me. It was demoralising me so much that it was taking away my drive to put the energy needed into my own projects and ideas that I wanted to pursue.
So just like one of my recent posts You say it best…when you say nothing at all… where I found huge benefit in cutting out certain types of music from my daily routine, I did the same with the news. Except I cut it out of my life completely.
No more news channels.
No more newspapers.
No more reading articles through social media.
If the news comes on when I'm in the living room watching TV, I either change the channel or go and do something else. I now no longer pick up the Metro or the Evening Standard papers when I am out and about in the city.
I do still obviously have a fair idea of the main events happening in the world, through overhearing conversations or when an article pops up randomly on my Instagram feed. Of course I'm still going to get involved in big world events such as voting or protesting. It's just not I don't actively search out what's going on, or allow myself to have it unwittingly fed into my eyes and ears anymore unless I'm consciously and selectively choosing to allow it.
Essentially it's a mental clean out, similar to how we do for our bodies when we decide to re-evaluate the food we're putting in our mouths and reduce the amount of crap and processed food we consume to improve our physical health. The same goes for being conscious of what you're seeing and hearing and the volume of it, to ensure we're in the best mental health as well.
I now make the effort to watch 'good news make-you-smile' videos when I can (My personal favourites are any videos of pandas going about their day). Here's a heartwarming one if you need a pick me up. You're welcome!
This news detox isn't permanent. This change won't be for the rest of my life, although I currently don't have an end date in mind of when I want to 'switch back on' to the world. But I do know this is going to be a good and very long detox, and it's just what I need.
I care about the our planet, our world and the people and animals on it.
But for me to be able to give my energy to other things I want to achieve in life this is a necessary detox.
So I have to care for me first.
And you know what?...I'm loving it! I feel refreshed! You could accuse me of being blissfully ignorant to what's going on around me, but I actually think it's good for all of us to have this type of break - be it for just a weekend, a week, a month, a year or many years.
My 'news detox' is now in its tenth month and I won't be stopping anytime soon. It's given me the mental space and renewed energy I needed to focus, improve and further myself. To take my plans and ideas to the next level, where I'm actually doing them. In fact, this blog is one of those ideas that I'm now making happen!
Does any of the above resonate with you?
Are you thinking about how to apply a bit of this type of self-care for yourself?
Questions To Ask Yourself
1. Find What Works For You: What ways can you give your mind the space to see and listen to other things going on around you, whilst also allowing space in which other thoughts and ideas you might have can then come to the surface? If you like the idea of what you've read above then why not give the 'news detox' a try!
2. Fill yourself up: What additional ways can you refill your energy and balance? Some examples could be; watching and reading good news stories, talking to your neighbours, re-connecting with friends, doing some volunteering to give back to your community. The list is endless. Take some time and ask yourself - what activities and actions fill up that energy cup?
3. Be reflective: Carry a little notebook and just pay conscious attention to what you are noticing on your detox if you decide to do one. Yu may feel you have a renewed sense of energy, or that reshifting your focus has opened up a whole new way of thinking. Note down anything and everything you are feeling and noticing. It's a great way to look back and realise the steps and changes that have happened and how far you have come along on your news detox journey.
*If you would like information on the Business & Personal Coaching services that I offer and pricings, please do go to my Coaching Services page or email me via my Contact page.