A couple days ago my son popped his head in my office to tell me he was going for a walk. He caught me staring absent-mindedly at the wall and I told him “have fun”. He popped his head back in a minute later to ask if I was okay.
“What do you mean?” I inquired
“Well, you seem… off. You seem sort of sad and angry and tired all at the same time.”
The kid nailed it. That is exactly how I am feeling. I strongly suspect that is how scores of people are feeling right now: helpless, sad about the world, angry about the world and tired of the helplessness.
I know I am supposed to be taking care of myself. Heck, I just wrote an article about how parents need to get themselves together before trying to guide kids through the situation we are all in, but that is easier said than done.
Hard exercise works. If I run until my lungs hurt and I’m gasping for breath, it successfully shuts down my brain’s ability to think. It feels good, but obviously one can’t do that all day long.
There is a real temptation to drink because it takes the edge off and also numbs the feelings, but I am acutely aware how unhealthy this is, so I’m going dry for a while.
I am a bona fide news junkie. Years ago, I used to be the Senior Producer for CNN’s media analysis show, “Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz” before Howie left for Fox and I left to follow my spouse abroad. I’ve never stopped watching ten or so different newscasts a day (thank God for VPNs).
I am a firm believer, especially now with world events moving at lightning speed, it is important every citizen stays up on the news. But it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I should take a break.
So, I did something I never do: I woke up and didn’t look at a single news site. I went for long walks and worked on my garden, and wrote a little bit, but I stayed away from the news for 24 whole hours. The next day I woke up feeling vastly less despondent, less hopeless, less frustrated. In short, it worked. Just stepping away from it for 24 hours really felt like a shot of adrenaline.
I never thought in a million years I would recommend people be less informed, but if you are feeling like me, maybe you should give it a try, just for 24 hours. Believe me, I know how hard that can be, but it really, really worked.
I’m back watching the world seemingly unravel at lightning speed now because I can’t really imagine going on a news diet for more than 24 hours, but I definitely recommend trying it if you are finding all else isn’t working.
Laura has been writing and editing for more than 25 years, a fact which more than a source of pride, sends her running to the wrinkle cream aisle of CVS. She has worked for CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and CBS radio. She has three children, and you will either find her thoroughly enjoying their company or yelling at them to clean up after themselves and turn off the lights.