This past weekend, I woke up early on a Sunday in a perfectly good mood. I was ready for a relaxing, quiet day with my family. Before I got out of bed, I grabbed my phone and checked a few texts and scrolled Instagram for a few minutes. As I scrolled, a post came up where someone was passionately sharing their opinion about current events. There were many comments, some contentious, some in agreement. As I read and scrolled, I felt a tightness in my chest. I was feeling my good, light mood slipping away into frustration and anxiety. I got sucked in and spent a good 20 or 30 minutes reading other posts, others’ opinions, strong feelings, and viewpoints. Just like that my good mood was gone and I just wanted to crawl back under the covers.
I’m a researcher. I like to know information and facts. I have always been like this. Knowing ALL the information somehow eases my mind and calms my anxiety. If there is a major news event, I read every article I can find to learn all the facts, reducing the amount of unknowns. But not now. Not with the current pandemic, looming election, and people shouting their opinions from every direction. Right now it seems like no one can quite find the right answers, so we go looking and looking, digging deeper and deeper, but we still haven’t found any right answers, only feelings and opinions.
So this past weekend, I set some boundaries for myself. I decided how I was going to try to consume social media, news, and information over the next few months, because I only see it getting louder and more opinionated.
Here are a few boundaries I am working on setting for myself:
- Looking at my phone will not be the first or last thing I do in a day. What I read in the first 10 to 20 minutes of the day can have a significant impact on my mood. Taking in a lot of new information or strong opinions right before bed can leave me wide awake, dissecting, and processing. Protecting those two times of day do wonders.
- Choose only a couple of sources. Avoid information overload. These days, anyone can post anything and claim it as fact. Let’s all narrow down our sources of information to ones we trust and that leave us feeling knowledgeable and not weighed down. Resist the urge to constantly look for “more” information.
- Don’t be afraid to “mute” and/or “unfollow”. On Instagram and Facebook there are ways to hide notifications and posts from certain people without completely unfollowing them. If you find yourself consistently becoming frustrated, stressed, or otherwise negatively impacted by the posts of particular people, set that boundary for yourself, even if it’s just for a short time.
- Process and create your perspective and opinion off screen. Use your sources, find reputable information, have real-life conversations, and then make your conclusions that sit right with you.
This year has been overwhelming and confusing. It’s not likely to seem less overwhelming or confusing in the near future. There is a lot to think about, process, and decide over the coming months as the pandemic continues, the election nears, and we all continue to adapt to this “new normal.” I’d encourage us all to evaluate and set boundaries around the amount and origin of the information and media we consume. It’s in our best interest and we will all be better for it.
How do you set boundaries around the news and media you consume?