I Need A Negativity Detox
This election season has been emotionally draining and filled with so much negativity.
Damn, is it November yet?
Watching the news each night brings up feelings of anxiety and fear. And at times, being on my favorite social media platform, Twitter, makes me feel like I've fallen into a bottomless pit of negativity. I love Twitter for the breaking news, engaging conversations and hilarious memes but the racism, misogynistic behavior and utter meanness espoused on the social platform is enough to make even the strongest person crack. I think I need a negativity detox.
Anatomy of an Addiction
Prior to this election, I vehemently disagreed with anyone attempting to portray social media as an addictive tool. However, now I think these individuals are right and I'm delusional. I crave news even though 9 times out of 10, the subject matter makes me upset. When I'm away from my phone I suffer from a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Aren't these the actions of a delusional person? Am I torturing myself by getting upset about things that I alone can't change? Do I really want the news or am I addicted to the negativity because I get high off the outrage?
When my phone is my hand, I feel compelled to check social media for the latest information to feed my addiction to negativity and outrage. I'm drawn to the negativity, like a flies to poop. I scroll through the comment section of a controversial article, even though I know it will contain gross and ignorant comments. I read these comments knowing it will make me upset and angry. I tell myself that I'm just reading it to stay informed and gain insight into how other people think, but can this be true if I do this all the time? It's a little sadistic, isn't it?
Being bombarded with negativity on social media and in the news causes me to cycle between overanalysis and paralysis. When I'm not over analyzing the things I see on social media, I'm paralyzed by the fear of what people will think.
This may seem crazy to some, but when I'm reading a story that inspires me to comment or take action, I'm afraid to do anything. I fail to act. Instead, I think about all the snarky rebuttals that'll be made as a result of my innocent comment. So I put my thumbs down, hit like or retweet but rarely will I add my two cents especially if the topic is controversial. I like having passionate discussions with people because it's an opportunity for me to learn, however, my fear of social media trolls keeps me muted.
Taking Steps to Save Myself
After a talk with my therapist, I realized that I was allowing social media as well as current events to change me. I needed a negativity detox. The goal of my detox is to reduce the negative images I see, the negative articles I read and the negative thoughts I let into my mind. I have to take action because without proper management I run the risk of becoming a douchebag, a narrow-minded nincompoop or worse.
To save myself from more sleepless nights or potential nervous breakdown, I took the following steps; I encourage you to try these steps if or when you're in need of a negativity detox.
- Limit time on social media. I spend no more than 15 minutes on social media. Five minutes each on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter every 3-4 hours. This gives me enough time to see what's going without getting sucked into the madness.
- Read for entertainment purposes only. Far too often, I've spent my time reading to catch up current events, learn a new skill or for self-development..I forgot reading a good book can simply be fun. I'm currently reading "The Misadventures of An Awkward Black Girl" by Issa Rae. I bought this book over a year ago and it sat on my shelf collecting dust. It's the first of many entertaining books I plan to read this year.
- Listen to music. There's something magical about music. It has the ability to transform your mood and lift your spirit. I created a Spotify playlist called "Got Inspiration" to pick me up when I'm down in the dumps or when I'm spiraling into the negativity pit. I love listening to my playlist while I cook dinner, it makes me feel much happier.
- Watch a funny show or movie. I watch my favorite episodes of Psych on Netflix or The Mindy Project on Hulu when I need a good laugh. Laughter releases some much needed endorphins, decreases stress hormones and improves your mood. It truly is the best medicine.
- Go for a walk. During my walk, I try to focus on the moment. Losing oneself in nature helps you realize that a change of scenery is always a good way to improve your mood.
- Find alternative news sources. I decided to turn to Democracy Now's Youtube channel for news updates. The videos are short and packed with information on topics that are important to me and the best part of all is I get to control what I see.
Have you reduced your time on social media? How do you manage negativity?
If you need some music to pick you up, be sure to check out my Spotify playlist.