I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is an excessive amount of information invading our social media feeds and news apps. Understatement of the year, right? I for one can’t pick up my phone, turn on my television, or open my computer without being bombarded by news alerts—each one seemingly more alarming than the last. Organizations are rising up and being shut down; some world leaders—political and religious—are applauding while others are turning their backs; lifelong government servants are walking out while others are trying to find their place. And then there is the protesting, the celebrating, and the fighting. My sister aptly explained, “It’s a new world.”
All the hype, shock tactics, incivility, and, well, change are making my head spin. And my focus is going along for the ride. My productivity has dipped significantly, and I’m having a hard time remembering the last time I laughed—really laughed—with friends. One by one, my clients are asking for techniques to help with an unexpected spike in their feelings. This new world calls for new ways to hang on, cope, and focus. It’s unrealistic to think we can fully escape from the media. We need new-world techniques in the face of our new-world problems to enhance our focus, productivity, and performance.
Start by asking yourself when you’ve felt one or more of the following over the past few months:
These feelings are generated by our nervous system. They increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones, and can have a detrimental effect on our cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, and nervous systems, among others. These feelings, especially if sustained over time, challenge our physical body, emotional balance, and mental health, putting our overall well-being in danger.
Now, ask yourself if you’ve felt one or more of the following over the past few months:
These feelings are also generated by the nervous system. But conversely, these positive feelings promote optimal body function, including cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive and digestive health, emotional balance and mental clarity, strength, and endurance. Not surprisingly, when we’re experiencing these feelings, focus, productivity, and performance are at their best.
Throughout our lives we will experience all these feelings and more. But if we maintain a pattern of feeling more stressed than calm, more worried than assured, more anxious than contented, or more disappointed than pleased, we will endanger our well-being—yes, another thing to worry about! And from what I’ve been seeing, this imbalance is the new norm. That’s a problem, because the sad truth is, no one can live like this for a sustained length of time without serious detrimental effects. But I believe there are simple steps we can take to harness emotional wellness.
Feelings are much like waves—we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which to surf. Similarly, we can’t stop the wave of the media coming at us, but we can choose how to engage. Choosing how to engage and what to engage in—choosing which waves we surf—puts us in control of our well-being. That may mean making conscious decisions regarding when to check in with the world (read articles, watch the news, check apps and Facebook, etc.) or for how long and with whom to talk about pressing issues. Perhaps you will decide that a half-hour in the morning and half-hour after dinner works for you. Maybe you’ll opt only for morning news, especially if you feel like the news keeps you from getting good rest at night.
Self-empowerment is a way to control waves that might otherwise knock us over. Choose one or two issues that you could wholeheartedly support, then take action by marching, volunteering, donating, writing letters, etc. Such actions place a positive spin on the issues that affect you most and help instill a sense of control and purpose in the bigger picture.
Another important (but easy) strategy for winning back control of our well-being is to refocus our attention on the little things that light us up. Perhaps it’s a great bowl of soup, engaging book, quiet time with a cup of tea. You might plan a day each week to spend time with a positive friend, a special niece or nephew, or even your pet. These kinds of activities induce feelings of calm, assuredness, contentment, and optimism. The more you slow down to add these little moments of joy into your life, the more you’re able to crowd out the stress, worry, anxiousness, and disappointment. Like that proverbial bucket, fill life with the good stuff and there’s less room for the bad.
This week I invite you to slow down. Acknowledge how what is happening in the world is affecting your feelings as well as your overall life performance. Not sure how to slow down? I’ve got you covered. Check out this week’s challenge for three tips to help you slow down. Then focus on your choices, such as how to engage and add more good. Try it for a week—I promise you’ll feel the difference.
Make A Change Today,