It doesn’t even need to be said: the news cycle has been exhausting and we can’t even pinpoint when it started. With the rise of the information age (and now, misinformation age), psychologists have come to learn more about the limitations of the human brain.
We weren’t wired to be able to process all the trauma, violence, silence, and catastrophe on this earth. But before you get down on yourself for feeling so susceptible to burnout, let us remind you that social media platforms leverage the psychology of addiction for their own profit.
Here’s how to protect your headspace while still being able to connect to the issues that are important to you.
Take inventory of how certain content makes you feel.
You can practice intention in every area of your life, including your social media consumption. Try paying attention to when you start to feel irritable or restless during your screentime. Whether it’s a celebrity looking unreasonably flawless or a close friend’s behavior during a pandemic, knowing what’s burning you out is the first step.
Give yourself permission to unfollow friends and family.
Social media isn’t real life—it’s just one expression of it. Instead of looking at restricting family and friends as “unfriending” them, set an intention that this choice will preserve your relationship. Like they say, bearing and growing resentments is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
Flood your feed with positive accounts.
Subscribing to content that only feeds your body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety can be an act of self-harm in itself. Take the great purge of unfollowing accounts that make you feel worse about yourself and replace them with affirming accounts.
Turn anger into action.
Don’t feel bad about removing violence from your feed. For example, I went vegan after watching disturbing animal cruelty videos. I was afraid that if I unfollowed those important activist accounts, I’d lose sight of the issue. Today, my feed is flooded with farm sanctuary videos of rescued cows nuzzling with chickens and it positively reinforces my choices to this day.
The same can be said with many other social justice issues. From #BlackLivesMatter to #PlasticFreeFutures, we can choose to subscribe to accounts that relay urgent news with clear calls to action. We can’t be part of the movement if we’re trapped in the prison of our minds.
If you’re experiencing emotional distress or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and reconnect with your power at 1-800-273-8255.