I Can't Stop Refreshing My Phone, And Other Modern-Day Addictions

During my last two weeks of travel, I've done my best to answer every American political question I could, though as I mentioned yesterday, many conversations ended with me suggesting family members stock up on canned okra and consult their I Ching from a reinforced bunker.

In in all seriousness though, I'm with Drew Magery over at GQ, who's found himself gone full "wingnut" now, constantly refreshing the news in his state of "bipolar despondency." In his words, "Every time I check the news, I want to die."

And man, I GET IT. The only blessing that arose from my having food poisoning for the last 48 hours was that for much of it, I was too nauseous to look at a computer screen, relegated instead to finishing the original book Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick on my non-glaring kindle. Which of course didn't actually help things, but at least let me escape to a fantasy version of America gone cray.

The most common refrain I've heard from friends and family over the past few weeks is how they can't stop reading. Folks I know who are not political junkies like me say they have to turn off Facebook, turn off Twitter, because it just isn't ending, and they can't get away from it. They say they wake up with anxiety, and find themselves addicted to the news.

Now I'm Not a Doctor, so those readers who actually are should email in to correct me on this, but this constant state of fear is not healthy. I joked yesterday about my aching heart, but steeping your body in the stress hormone cortisol can lead to increased heart rate, sleep issues, weight gain, concentration impairment and digestive problems, in addition to anxiety and depression.

So combine that with the dopamine hit you take every time you refresh your social media, and we're all continuously stirring our stress stew.

But especially now, self-care is paramount. If you're paralyzed by fear, or obsessed with the news, it means you can't do anything about it. So here are a few suggestions I'm trying to live right now, in order to keep my sanity and stay focused:

  1. Limit screen time. Set scheduled social media times, or make sure you're screen-free at least half an hour before you go to bed.

  2. Pick your issues, and become an expert on those. Trying to track every piece of insanity coming at you is impossible, so instead pick the issues that matter most to you. For me, that's immigration issues, hate speech, and women's health.

  3. Channel your energy. Read the Indivisible Guide, and find the best ways to reach out to your elected officials. Join the ACLU. Volunteer locally, and take care of your community. Write down your fears, and your hopes, and your plans.

  4. Take care of your relationships. Be kind to the people around you, especially those closest to you. Your networks are more important than ever now, both as a source of inspiration, and a source of comfort. Be grateful for those you love, and let them know you appreciate them. Try and talk about things other than the current state of Union. Listen, and empathize. Laugh as much as you can.

  5. And most importantly, take care of yourself. If you aren't taking care of yourself, you can't care for others. For me, that's going to yoga, meditating, eating real food that I cook, going for walks with my puppies, getting and giving as many hugs as I can. Breathing. For you, it might be Akido, or painting, or going for a run. Whatever it is, do it, and try and thank yourself for doing it.

Well, that's it, that's all my loves. I appreciate you, and I thank you for still being here with me.