With all the political, environmental, and emotional turmoil that hit the U.S in November of last year, I could hardly stand to listen to the news anymore. All news seemed like bad news: natural disasters, mass shootings, and offensive politicians were becoming mainstream. Raised in a family that works in the news industry, cutting it out of my life was a first. But everything I read was upsetting and I didn’t know how to cope anymore.
I pulled away, disengaged from the callous world around me. Of course I still knew what was going on, it’s hard not to just hear from word of mouth, but I was no longer actively seeking news. I know I’m not the only one whose felt this way, hopeless is a word I’ve heard far too many times in reference to the state of the world. What I didn’t realize, and what most people don’t, is the importance of sitting with these feelings and processing them. This is how activists are created, emotions make people want to do something.
Somewhat reluctantly, I began reading the news daily again. But this time, I had a whole new outlook on things. Here’s all my tips to you on how to stay positive when reading through the rough stuff.
Choose your source carefully: This is not going the obvious “use reliable sources” direction that I’m sure you’re thinking this is going to go (but that too). When I’m reading the news, I find it hard to drag through the gritty facts sometimes. That’s why I read theSkimm, a newsletter sent straight to my email every weekday morning. It’s definitely geared towards women, but it can keep the serious topics rather light. For me, it makes things a lot more digestible. They also link up a lot of articles so you can always opt to go deeper into the issues. Either way, you’ll be up to date on all the big stories every morning minus the drag down of a droning newscaster. The other option is to listen to a good podcast. Podcasts can be underestimated as a news source, but there are so many good ones out there. The one I find myself listening to (mostly because Ian is always playing it) is “Up First”, a short recap of the events from the day before. Throw it on while you’re primping over the mirror in the morning and start your day feeling informed.
(follow this link to sign up for theSkimm now: https://www.theskimm.com/?email=hannahnicoleek%40gmail.com&from_ds=true&issue-date=2017-12-07&r=9f0e9d87&share-track=RC1)
Read more: This sounds like the exact opposite of what you’d want to do when something is troubling, but the more you read the more you learn about what’s being done to resolve or counteract certain issues. Being properly informed can greatly influence your views and attitudes towards the news. It’s really as simple as that.
Get involved: Ever read something and think “how could this happen? can’t somebody do something?” Well yes, you can do something, and you should. It’s so easy to turn to social media and rant, but that energy can be re-channeled into something that could be truly productive. This doesn’t mean you have to spend all your disposable income funding charities, it can be simple things. Natural disaster? Spend two hours on your Saturday contributing to disaster relief at the red cross in town. Outraged by changes in environmental policies? Hop online and put your name on a petition. Concerned about the famine in Sudan? Donate a small dollar amount. The little things really can make big differences. Think about how much money could be raised if everyone who was upset by something donated to the cause. So your $1 or $5 could actually go a long way. Pick things that are particularly important or moving when you decide to get involved. Not to mention, offering your services can always serve as a personal pick me up.
Talk about it: You can learn more about the issues from other people, or be able to look at them from other perspectives. If you’re up for a challenge, be open to talking to people whose opinion differs from yours. A lot of the worlds problems could be solved by both sides hearing each other out. Sure it can be frustrating, but also insightful. More realistically, talk to the people who are close to you. I usually find that I can learn a new fact or detail that I didn’t know previously, which can shed new light on a subject. A group of girlfriends and I, commonly know as the Babes for a Better World, would get together once a month and talk about the issues. It was amazing how relieved I would feel after my frustrations and concerns were hashed out over soup, salad, and wine. As the candles on the dinner table shrunk down, so did my worries. It’s good to know there are other good people in the world who care in the same ways you do. Moral of the story: talk about the issues, don’t let your emotions sit when you can share them.
These little tricks have all worked for me. It’s incredibly critical in todays world that we don’t withdraw, but instead stay active and informed. Remember, the world is only hopeless to those who do not know how to take action.