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Care in What You Consume
Editor's Note: Charlie wrote a companion post, What Are You Listening To?, about his experiences in 2004 during his Iraq deployment, and in 2020 with COVID-19. This post provides Angela's perspective of the same two time periods.
Extra self-care is vital for me right now. Many of us have found that we are needing extra of some things and less of others in order to function at our best — or at least what we can consider our best right now.
We know that staying active through movement, getting plenty of sleep, and eating well are important pieces of our functioning optimally in the best of times — and even more important during challenging times when our bodies, minds, and hearts are even more taxed, as they are now.
While most of us are aware of how important it is to maintain healthy habits around exercise, sleep, and diet, many of us are not at all or only vaguely aware of our media consumption habits and how those habits affect us.
I was given the opportunity to take a close look at my information consumption habits when Charlie was deployed to Iraq in 2004–2005. Because coverage of the war was so invasive and I was newly-ish married and in a new city on my own, I (wrongly) tried to “keep up” with what was going on overseas where Charlie was deployed — and made myself more scared and miserable by the day.
It didn’t take too long before I realized that keeping up with the news was going to be unsustainable. I made the decision to go off the news cold turkey and had to trust that I would find out what I really needed to know some other way.
The truth was that there was nothing in the news cycle that I needed to know. If there was news of something related to Charlie or his unit I would find out through the military channels when they came to me.
I also changed my consumption habits around what I was reading and other things I was watching on television. I realized that anything that was scary, too dramatic, or overly sad was not going to be part of my life while Charlie was away.
Despite my being in academia and very out of touch with my more spiritual nature at that time, I knew on some level that I was a highly empathic and sensitive person, and that the information I consumed had a big impact on me.
Every one of us is impacted by the information we consume, whether we realize it or not. Even if you don’t consider yourself sensitive or empathic, you do pick up on the energy of anything you consume. What you watch, listen to, or read all impact your well-being.
While it’s always important to be aware of what information you are consuming, now is an opportune time to take notice and consider if you would like to make some habit changes around your media consumption.
Here are a few areas to consider and some questions to ask:
How often do you tune into the news — whether on TV, in a newspaper, or in your social media feeds? How often are you checking these channels every day? How do you feel when you tune in? Scared? Anxious? Hopeful?
What are you reading nowadays? Is it a true crime series, comedy, wisdom literature, a thriller, or something else? How does it make you feel?
What shows or movies are you watching? What are the characters doing and how are they interacting with one another? Is the content scary, funny, awe-inspiring, or something else? How do you feel while you are watching and after you have watched?
What music are you listening to throughout your day? Is it hopeful, angry, uplifting, or sad? Something else? What do you feel when you are listening?
It’s a great time to bring your awareness to your general information consumption and I especially want to call attention to how much of your time is spent consuming information about COVID-19.
How is consuming this news helping you? How is it supporting you to make good decisions? How is it helping you do your best work? How is it helping you support your family and community?
Most of us already know what we truly need to know about COVID and how to respond. We know about sheltering in place. We know about physical distancing. We know when to contact our healthcare providers.
I am not advocating that you stick your head in the sand and pretend that we are not in the midst of a global pandemic, but I am asking you to consider how the habits you have around media consumption are really and truly supporting you at this time.
Everything we consume becomes part of who we are. What choices are you making about the information you are allowing into your life right now? Are there any changes you want to make in the type of music you listen to, the stories you read, or the shows you watch? And might your partner, friend, roommate, or someone else you care about need this reminder, as well?