It has been quite a winter here. We had “Snow-mageddon,” “Snow-mageddon II” and a huge ice storm. Our days were filled with dire weather alerts, scary traffic updates, school closings and eye-witness reports. Piled on top of the terrible economic conditions, horrific stories of wars and natural disasters, is it any wonder that many of us have been feeling burdened by the heavy weight of it all? Some days it just feels like the sky is falling.
What is interesting is that, if you pay close attention, what passes for news these days are actually either predictions of what might happen (especially where weather is concerned) or very selected aspects of what has already happened (usually the most negative and sensational ones, of course). The intent of news these days is not to inform us, but rather to encourage us to come back for more “news.” We become “addicts” who are hungry for the latest awful development, which in turn, makes us feel even more anxious, more depressed, scared, angry, marginalized, ____________(add your negative mind state here).
If this is hitting home, I’ll propose a little experiment for you. First, really notice how you feel – physically, mentally and emotionally. You might even write it down in a journal. Then, turn off your TV, radio, and Internet news sources for one week. Stop reading the newspaper and magazines, too. (Some of you have already panicked at just the thought of this – notice how that feels, too, and write it down) For one week, go on a news “diet.” Each day, notice how you are feeling – again, you might want to write it down.
If you think about it, people got along just fine 100 years ago without weather and news reports. They paid attention to their little part of the world, and if they wanted to know what was going on, they chatted with their neighbors. There was time for conversation at meal times, for enjoying the sunset and the sound of the birds, among other things. The level of stress they experienced was lower and vastly different than ours.
If you are brave enough to try this experiment, I’d love to hear from you – how it went and what you learned. I’ll tell you what I learned, too.
If you are seeking professional mental health counseling services, please contact Linda Oxford at (248) 930-0004 or send an e-mail .