Guard Your Spirit

The internet is a source of constant, instant information. Cellphones expedite that process by bringing all that knowledge to the palm of your hand. Older people like to lament that the world is getting worse with each passing generation. When my grandmother says this, I remind her that executions and lynchings were public events, and people often brought their children along. The world is not getting worse; people are just as good and horrible as ever. However, thanks to technology, the world feels a lot smaller, and we are better informed about events world-wide.

Even with all the resources available, the ratio of bad to good is still too high. There is not enough good news being spread and shared. This is leading to the phenomena of social media burnout. We are constantly bombarded with terrible world events, politics, and messages of doom, gloom, and scarcity. Even the lines between work and home are blurred as you can be reached by work at all hours of the night and flooded with group messages from family and friends while at work.

Balance is the key to all things. Guarding your spirit is crucial to balance. There is a distinct lack of balance in the information age. And unplugging causes just as much anxiety as it triggers a fear of missing out or a genuine possibility of being uninformed. I believe that many people feel social media burnout, not because they are inundated with so many negative messages, but because there is no balance, no buffer, or break for their spirit. While it is impossible—and impractical—to avoid all news sources and modes of media and communication, it is possible to balance the types of information you are fed each day.

Over the last year, I have been attempting to be better at guarding my spirit and balancing the messages I receive. Music was always a stress reliever, but alone, it was no longer working. I decided to tackle my daily intake. For me, that meant having one social media account for news and being social, and the other to give me whimsy. My Twitter feed is literally just puppies, kittens, motivational messages, and photographs of majestic landscapes. The same goes for my music choices. I play motivational or relaxing music in the mornings and during my bedtime routine. The rest of the day, I listen to whatever strikes my fancy. I limit the amount of time I spend with people who are habitual complainers, and I have learned to protect my vibes by deep breathing before and during stressful meetings. A few months ago, I went through my settings on my cell and disabled notifications from apps that send unnecessary updates. I was getting notifications about new games I’d never play and sales at Target. It was overwhelming. Then I tackled my email and unsubscribed from over thirty lists that no longer held my interest.

I am not an expert at peace and balance; I am learning as I go. I know folks who have mastered zin. While I admire them, I am not that person. I cuss like a sailor, my face speaks the thoughts my mouth blocks, and I pick up emotions like a sponge. But I also pay attention to my body, so I know when I’m out of balance. All those changes have drastically eased how emotionally drained I feel on a daily basis. I can tell the difference when I break my routine and engage in social media too much or watch the news for too long. I feel weighted and agitated, which is a clear signal to scale back.

Do you find that you are always feeling out of sorts? Are you sad, angry, or fearful after you watch or read the news? Do you find that the things you usually do for relaxation are no longer relaxing? Maybe you are beginning to feel like a broke slacker after you check your social media accounts? Are scam calls driving you crazy? What about bill collectors?

Check your surroundings for things or people that agitate your spirit. Take inventory and root out the problem, then take measures to protect yourself. With the constant bombardment of information and distractions, it is essential to wellness to carve out time and safe space to renew and re-energize yourself.

What do you do to unwind and recharge?