In the past month I’ve been having one of two conversations with my clients.
One conversation is with those who come in my office, speak slowly, smile a lot and tell me how much they are enjoying life.
The other more frequent conversation is with those who are frazzled and deeply upset. They are burdened by the crises of the world and the difficulties of their personal lives. They are sad and mad, tired and overwhelmed.
While some of the difference has to do with taking a vacation – the other major difference is that the first group got unplugged. They haven’t been drowning in media, glued to their devices, and checked in to work, the world and all manner of trivia.
The constant barrage of bad and scary news: the stories of violence, cruelty, and heartbreak that we are drenched in and can do very little about, is bad for us. It fries our nervous systems, drains our energy and depresses our emotions.
This happens to most people who follow national and global news – (including the weather catastrophes), but it is especially hard on those who are already dealing with the daily dose of difficulty from their chronic illness.
Your nervous system is already taxed. Your resilience is spent on the hassles of daily life.
Yet you want to be a concerned and responsible citizen. You want to do your best at a time when the world is literally on fire. How can you handle it all?
I have three suggestions that I gleaned from meeting with that first group of clients. They care – they are not checked out, but they have a balanced awareness. How did they get there?
- Fast from media. Those who are smiling have taken a break from the barrage of images and stories that only reinforce how helpless we are. Follow their lead. Monitor how much you take in in any given day. Recognize that the news stories have an effect on you. The secret truth is you will find out anything really important– you don’t need visceral grim images of disaster haunting your sleep.
- More difficult – turn off and unplug from your devices. Take some down time from your to-do list. I know this is not easy – and may not even feel possible. But the effect of constant email and information and tasks also revs up your nervous system beyond capacity.
The people who are coming in to see me and who are relaxed, cite as the first and most important thing they did was “unplug” from constant electronic connection. They were with friends and family. They listened to their own thoughts, to the rain on the roof and the wind in the trees. This does wonders for your body as well as your spirit. Try it for one day a week. Move to another rhythm.
- Best, and maybe hardest – they had fun. They made it a priority. They set an intention and they followed it. How can we have fun in a world with so much suffering, including our own? How can we not. The world invites deep enjoyment. Enjoying the precious gift of life – a pain free afternoon, the touch of our four-legged friend, a meal savored with people we love – all of that restores us. It gladdens our heart so we can care and not get burned out. It reminds us that life is worth living – even with so much random and calculated tragedy.
It matters for your health and well-being that you take good care of your emotional and psychic well-being. Try these three suggestions and see what the results are for your life.
As always, let me know how it goes.