I have never been into politics or following the news. Generally my stance was that the news are depressing, and I feel others' pain so easily, so I avoided it.
With the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, that changed.
When the corona virus officially hit Ohio, I was checking for updates on the spread every day. When the BLM protests started I watched as much news coverage and private footage I could find. Columbus was one of the first cities to join, and it was scary it was happening right here. Some of my acquaintances got arrested just for being there.
Seeing so many horrible things happen, so many people just lacking common decency, started to affect me. All the people refusing to wear a mask, harassing retail workers just trying to do their jobs, putting so many people at risk, for pure selfish reasons. I was proud of myself for being updated with what's happening in the world, because I feel more knowledgeable and able to have more in-depth discussions, but also more and more overwhelmed.
In August I had a week where I was so overwhelmed with the state of this country I just couldn't cope. I have lived in the States for six years now, been a citizen for five, but I just wanted out. I wanted to just sell everything, sell the house, and get back to Sweden. But even if I did get ready to move, I wouldn't be allowed to fly there right now. The fact that I literally can't go home to see my family is so messed up!!
I was also binge-watching two seasons of American Horror Story that week (both of them with murder clowns, why did I do that to myself?? I hate murder clowns) which gave me nightmares every night and reaffirmed that people are awful. It didn't matter that it was fiction -- I saw proof of it every day online.
Photo by engin akyurt
I read somewhere that we are not meant to deal with/know about more than around 200 people. Before we were able to communicate and travel more easily, you basically only knew the people in your village and surrounding area. The only pain and sympathy and news you had to deal with were for this small group of people.
This is why we can't grasp big disasters happening. This is why in the beginning of the pandemic, when the people dying were Susan, 42, grocery store clerk, or Mark, 78, retired grandfather, we could feel sadness and despair for them and their families. When the numbers rose, they became just that -- a number.
I listen to Swedish radio online, and every day they report about the 1-4 people that died since yesterday because of the corona-virus. In the States, it's closer to or more than a thousand.
That over 200,000 people have died so far just because of this virus is so beyond of what our minds can fully comprehend.
So, unable to handle my intake of news and information, I did the following things.
What I did to overcome my information/news fatigue
Photo by Jimmy Conover
I went camping
Totally unplugging, leaving behind all the noise, and just escaping to nature was a blessing. We took the dogs and just spent our days hiking and sitting at camp talking and playing card games. I swear, after just an hour I felt so completely calm inside in a way I hadn't felt for months.
I stopped following American news channels
I now have the BBC News app and listen to Swedish radio and get most of my news from there, and I find them to be less alarmist and more focused on the world as a whole. On the radio news I also avoid pictures and videos and get the bare facts.
I replaced Reddit with Pinterest
I stopped using Reddit for a full week when we got home, and instead browsed Pinterest. By switching from an endless supply of politics, corrupt cops, and entitled people throwing a fit in stores, to crafts and decluttering tips, I satisfied my need for taking a break scrolling on my phone but got inspired to create and better myself instead of feeling helpless and upset.
I became more selective with social media
Just this morning I unsubscribed from a bunch of subreddits that were only making me anxious. Although funny, most of the posts lately have been about anti-maskers and Trump and I'm way better off having only cute/funny/hobby posts in my feed.
I also haven't been on Facebook at all for months. I used to mindlessly browse a decent amount, even though I haven't posted myself in years. But stopping altogether, since the people I actually care about hardly ever post, has given me a lot more peace of mind with one less place to compare myself and feel less than.
I focused on my part in the world
I had to realize that I am no good to anyone if I'm too stressed out and anxious about things I can't control. I can't change how people behave, and there is a limit to what I can do, especially during a pandemic. Realizing this really helped me focus on what affects me personally -- my home environment, my job, the people and pets in my life, and my hobbies.
What I can do for other people is to wear a mask and follow CDC guidelines. I can vote (which I 100% will). And if I see someone misbehave at the grocery store I can try to stand up for the employees, since they can't without risking getting fired. Been there, done that.
I will keep staying informed, but not flood my system with constant reminders. I figure, the best I can do is try to be a good person and do what I can for myself and those around me.
Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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