One of my 2018 goals was to give up something that’s not good for me each month. For January, I decided to give up watching and reading the news. It’s one week in and I can tell you that giving up the news for a month has been one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself. In fact, I love it so much that I’m considering giving up the news for maybe forever!
For me, watching and reading the news has always been part of my daily ritual. I like to be informed. As soon as I woke up each morning, I’d turn on the news. During the day I’d occasionally scroll through Facebook and news websites to see what was going on. I was also an NPR junkie. I thought it was my duty as a responsible citizen to stay informed and educated.
But the news was sucking the life out of me. Literally. I can’t stay detached from it. Over the last year or so, I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety, I think mainly because of feeling completely helpless about what’s going on around me. I’ve found myself feeling angry, sad, and frustrated most days. The news has been toxic for me: natural disasters, political shit, murders, mass shootings – it’s nothing but bad news.
So I’ve been wondering in recent weeks: what would happen if I didn’t know about the horrible stuff that’s going on every day? Does knowing what’s going on change anything? I don’t have control over any of it, so what if I just stopped listening and watching?
After just one week, it’s been truly liberating. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. My mood has substantially improved. The feelings of helplessness and despair have lessened significantly. Because here’s the deal: I have no control over what our government is doing. I can speak with my vote (and trust me, I will). I have no control over the weather, the criminals, the racists, or other assholes in this world. I do, however, have control over how I treat others, how I treat myself, and how I treat the environment.
Some of you may think that I’m just putting my head in the sand and pretending like everything is okay, but no, that’s not what this is. I can’t be a responsible, productive citizen if I don’t take care of myself first. That’s what I’m doing here. I know that realistically if all of us did this, the world could be absolute chaos.
Or would it?