Never before has it been so easy to stay well-informed about the news. Through our social media and the internet, we have unprecedented access to information, ideas, and analysis. Media and news outlets and social media companies, eager for our eyeballs, keep ramping up their efforts to keep us engaged and scrolling.
There is so much to pay attention to, and lately it all seems important and unprecedented. Many of us feel that paying attention to rapidly changing events is part of our civic responsibility at such a volatile time in history. But keeping up with everything can be exhausting, and worse, it can wear people down and make us feel drained and hopeless. So what can you do?
Tip #1: Cut back. You can stay responsibly informed without scrolling endlessly through your newsfeed, and you may be better off paying less attention to the rapid-fire updates on every story. A recent New York Times article suggested that paying constant attention to news online could be emotionally draining and even physically harmful. Although you might be motivated to stay informed to relieve your uncertainty, reading nonstop, generally negative news actually makes you more anxious. Some ideas for cutting back include:
- Read the physical newspaper instead of getting news online. The print edition is curated by editors who have selected the top stories, and even better, it has a limit – the last page.
- Uninstall the Facebook and Twitter apps from your phone, and decide you will only check once or twice a day on your computer. If you aren’t checking constantly, you’ll still be able to see the most important stories of the day by following trusted sources (including AFSC!).
Tip #2: Focus on the issues that matter to you most. In 2017 it seems that every day there is news that is deeply disturbing for those of us who are passionate about social justice and peace. The sheer volume of news on so many fronts can be overwhelming. One way to avoid fatigue is to focus your attention and energy on a few issues that you choose. Every issue is important, but you do not have to follow every moment of every story. Staying more focused could help you avoid feeling exhausted and anxious.
Tip #3: Read something else. If scrolling through your phone or computer has become a habit, try to channel that energy into something else. If you have been moved lately to become more politically active, seek out readings that will help you be a better activist. AFSC’s Lucy Duncan suggests spending some time listening. And here is a book list for white allies to check out that will help you as you get involved in this work. By reading books and activism resources, you can slow down and think more carefully about what is going on, and how you might help – without the anxiety of the minute to minute news cycle.
Do you have any self-care practices that help you manage crisis fatigue? Tell us about them in the comments.