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Time to Pull the Plug

Most of us are celebrating the Memorial Day weekend, and hopefully enjoying good weather, good food, and good company. We are benefitting from sunshine, healthy food, belly laughs and being surrounded by those we love.

But not all of us. As we know, it has been a rough few weeks all over this country. And particularly painful with the school shooting in Uvalde. This is not the Memorial Day weekend any of us were anticipating.

The stress level is high with the latest news about school and supermarket shootings, the invasion of Ukraine, and increasing threats and violence throughout the world. We are wondering what the world is coming to with all the hate and anger that is perpetuated out there. Was it always this way?

We get our news mostly from the internet, and we are constantly hit with alerts that bring us right back to the anxiety, trauma and despair that is part of the bad news cycle. If we leave our TVs on in various rooms in the house, we will hear the same litany over and over as well. It is not more; it is just more repetition of the same thing. And we are getting alerts on our phones, our laptops, our Facebook feeds, constantly. This constant barrage of latest developments within the same stories is starting to affect our psyche. And not in a good way.

It's time to take a break from the information overload. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know what is going on in the world. And it doesn’t mean we should have a Pollyannaish type of worldview that excludes all the nasty stuff.

What it does mean is that most of it is repetitive, due to a 24-hour news cycle. Do we really need this? What is it doing to our bodies and minds?

Plenty. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), this generalized anxiety can cause many symptoms in the body.

When provoked, a feeling of anxiety causes the “fight or flight” response, our innate response to danger. Now it is not a mountain lion triggering it – it is the news!

Yes, the non-stop stress and anxiety we feel is stimulating our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to step into high gear, increasing our heart rate, breathing and pumping out adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones. This is the best response to a mountain lion, not so much a daily diet of bad news and negative overstimulation.

A chronic onslaught of stress can cause chronic conditions, which left unabated, lead to heart attack, strokes and even chronic fatigue.

It is time to take a media break, friends. Unplug - It is for your own good.

Here is what to do instead:

1. Minimize your daily news feed. More information is not better. And turn the alerts off your phone and laptop.

2. Be selective and curate your news sources to only credible ones, bypassing the sensationalist and fear-mongering sites. And sometimes that means some of your friends and family too on social media.

3. Eat whole foods and make sure you are getting enough water. When we are stressed, we need more nutrition, not less. More hydration, too.

4. Get enough sleep. And that means turning off the TV at least a half hour before bed, and maybe reading a non-fiction book before turning in. Quiet time quiets the mind. If you want a “bedroom audit” to find out what else you can do to get a better night's sleep, contact me, subject line: Sleep.

5. Set time limits for when you are going to check the news, and stick to it.

6. Check out entirely for a few days and notice how you feel.

7. Start a gratitude journal to remind yourself of everyone and everything you are grateful for in your life. You will be glad you did.

An awareness of how a diet of negative news affects you and being proactive about your self-care habits will help mitigate the chronic stress and anxiety you may be currently feeling. Try some of these tips and let me know what helped you.

Speaking of diets, if you are sick of going on them, why not join me for a short jumpstart to your health, featuring whole foods and self-care practices. There is still time to join the Free 5-day Whole Food Spring Cleanse that starts Tuesday, May 31. Sign up here.

Nightie -night!

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