Why hello, everyone. I hope your quarantine is slightly less maddening than mine… I will likely be putting out episodes that are directly or indirectly related to our collective experience of the covid-19 pandemic for a while.
Today’s episode is an entire module from my online course, Kick Anxiety’s Ass, which I have extended enrollments in until this pandemic has chilled the heck out. This is module 8: The World Is Crazy.
As mentioned, this audio is ripped directly from module 8 of my Kick Anxiety’s Ass course. I have extended the sale of that course and will keep enrollments open until people are no longer sheltering in place. So if you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do so for just $75 or $25 payments right now.
Lesson 1: Dealing With The News
One of our developmental tasks in this age is figuring out how to deal with the flow of information. There’s simply too much of it to be exposed like a raw nerve all the time. We have had television and radio for a long time, but now that we have the internet and social media, the game has changed. Information travels so fast now and it feeds that false sense of immediacy that anxiety causes.
For some reason, we have developed this collective sense of guilt for not being 100% in the know about everything all the time at any given moment. It’s like we need to know that something happened THE MOMENT that it happens otherwise we are doing something wrong.
Your awareness of what happened in the news has absolutely no bearing on the fact that it happened.
Our knowledge or concern about events happening in the world (unless we are directly affected) does not change the fact that they are happening. Obviously there are exceptions to this, such as putting pressure on a person or organization to take a given action. However, for the most part, having a couple hours of lag time between when an event happened and when you learn about it only helps you get a more clear picture. It also might help you have a more level head to take in that information.
Managing News Intake
- Block out specific times that you are allowed to invite the news in OR block out sacred times where you are disconnected from the world.
- Pay attention to the type of media intake. There is a time for one-way media such as a radio show and there is a time for dialogue such as in the comment sections on social media.
- At the very least, consider waiting for a while in the morning before diving into the news and social media. Wake up, eat something, have coffee if you’re a coffee drinker, think about your plans for the day, and then invite the world in.
- Similarly, try to give yourself some time at night to be unplugged and disconnected from the world so that you can decompress and get ready for sleep.
You are allowed to feel.
It’s important for you to understand what is going on in the world and you are allowed to care immensely about the news. However, if you’re so upset and distracted that you can’t effectively function, that’s not helping anyone.
Dealing with Disasters
When it comes to dealing with natural or man-made disasters, there are a few tips that might help you take good care of yourself and feel less helpless.
- Remember that the statistical likelihood of a disaster happening to you is still quite low despite high levels of media coverage.
- Prepping and having reasonable plans can help to ease the paralysis that can come with anxiety.
- You do NOT have to cover every single contingency.
- Rest is important, even when events are still unfolding.
- If you can’t get sleep, at least prioritize rest, so that you can function.
- Find comfort in the small moments and humor in the ridiculousness.
- Keep routine where you can.
- Talk about it.
Lesson 2: Dealing With Social Media
In this lesson, we are going to talk about technology and social media, as they relate to anxiety.
First off, I encourage you to use the block, mute, unfollow, and pause functions liberally. The terms are different depending on which social network you are talking about and the options change every year, but there are always ways to limit what you see.
When you see a post that you should not interact with, hide it instantly.
If there is post that you are going to get worked up about and you could get the same information somewhere else, consider hiding it as quick as you can. This is for posts that you know you shouldn’t dive into, but might not be able to control yourself. When you hide the post, you are unlikely to go see it out just to comment on it another time. Out of sight, out of mind.
You can use the mute function to hide specific topics.
When the #metoo movement first kicked off, there were thousands of amazing posts from women describing their experiences with sexual violence or harassment. It was powerful. It was also triggering. I knew many people that simply did not want to be constantly brought back into their own traumatic past over and over again throughout the day. The mute function came in really handy, as they could mute the #metoo hashtag to limit the amount of triggering posts that they saw.
With social media, it’s super easy to get into reactionary mode and bounce around various feeds like a ping pong ball, just waiting for something to grab your attention or piss you off.
Before you dive into a comments section, ask yourself what your intention is.
You are allowed to do what you want, but I want you to be more aware of why. Before you dive into the comments section of a post that is bound to have ignorance and upsetting dialogue, ask yourself why you are going there. Is it simply because you want to get in a fight? Is it because you want to correct misinformation? Is it because you want to practice your argument and hone your skills? Is it because you want to change someone’s mind? All of these reasons are fine. Just be aware of your intention.
Push notifications are intrusive and it can be helpful to limit them.
- Notifications are intrusions into your life.
- We are not as good at multitasking as we think and the part of your brain that helps you manage multiple tasks gets overwhelmed by anxiety. This doesn’t help.
- By switching off notifications, you put the flow of information into your hands. You have more control.
- Notifications also give a false sense of immediacy, you probably don’t need to respond or react right that instant.
Good ways to use technology
- Breathing apps
- Reminders and lists
- Heart rate monitoring
- Mood tracking
Lesson 3: Taking Action
One of the worst parts of anxiety is the feeling that you don’t have any control or influence over your situation. In this lesson we’re going to talk about ways that you can fight the feeling of helplessness by taking action. This applies to politics as well as anything you are passionate about. DOING something helps you to achieve some sense of control.
It can be hard to put yourself out there when you have anxiety. Tapping into your values can help to pull you through and give you the motivation that you need.
- Look to your frustrations to discover your values.
- Why are you so frustrated by the things that bother you in everyday life?
- Underneath the annoyance is often a value that you are passionate about.
- Values help to guide your behavior. Ask yourself whether a given action or decision is in line with your values.
Taking action doesn’t always have to be directly related to the issue at hand. Example: If you’re passionate about dispelling myths about OCD, but you aren’t the type to go out to an event or go on camera to talk about these issues, maybe you could write a detailed Facebook status or make a shareable graphic related to the issue. If you aren’t tech savvy, maybe you could simply bake some cookies and send them to a local oraganization.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be constantly active in making a difference. Morally, it may be really important for you to be active and make a difference, but you also need to be reasonable in understand that you need to stay afloat and invest in yourself if you’re going to be able to make a difference.
Track the emotional effects of technology and social media for one week. When you engage in an activity online, try to write it down and then note the effect that it has on your mood. This will help you get a better handle on where there are and are NOT issues.
Thanks for Listening!
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