Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wednesday Reset: 8 Tips for Managing Digital Overwhelm

It’s become evident that we are, once again, in the midst of a groundswell. Or maybe we’ve been in the midst of a groundswell for months, caught in its ebbs and flows. Seemingly every moment of every day, there is something significant happening, and our digital devices are right there to keep us clued in.


I’ve been contemplating writing this post for so long (I noted the idea in July), but wanted to give myself time to really gather my thoughts. More than one of my Black friends shared with me that they felt they were being “bad” Black people if they chose to look away from the media pertaining to police violence against Black people even though it was giving them anxiety or making them feel intensely hopeless. That bothered me so much because I want every Black person (and person, generally) to feel empowered and proud to take control of their mental health. Alas, here we are about two months later, and I’m sharing some of my favorite strategies for managing digital overwhelm.


My hope is that these tips help you better manage your relationship with your digital devices and the digital media you consume, or, at the very least, that they give you something to mull over.


As you read through the tips, maybe have your phone, laptop, pen, and paper nearby so you can work through them as you read.


1. Understand that you deserve happiness and joy. This is fundamental to all of the tips I share below. I believe that everyone deserves happiness and joy, in ways small and large, therefore I believe you deserve happiness and joy. Both are cornerstones of mental health and feeling like we have reason to wake and continue fighting the good fight for the causes we believe in. If you do not understand this, then you will forever be caught in the cycle of consuming media that makes you unhappy. I encourage you to remind yourself of this everyday; maybe write it on a post-it and stick it on your fridge, write it in your journal, speak it aloud, whatever works for you.

Activity: Write your own mantra to cultivate a sense a happiness and joy. (You can also feel free to borrow this one: I deserve happiness and joy.)


2. Let go of feeling like you need to know everything. The world is moving even though we don’t feel it. Release the notion that you must know every detail of every harrowing story (there are lots these days). Sometimes protecting your mental peace is most important.

Activity: Turn off all notifications on your phone and laptop for 24-hours. Consider doing this once a week, or 7 days a week.


3. Incorporate breathing exercises into your day. This is a little woo-woo, but I’m a little woo-woo. Breathing is one of our best coping mechanisms when it comes to managing stress. There are lots of free exercises out there; I even have one up on my YouTube channel here. Sometimes reveling in the beauty of a breath is the grounding we need.

Activity: Close your eyes and take 10 conscious breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.  


4. Time box your engagement with media and respect those limits. Utilize the built-in tools within your technology to set limits on how much time you can spend consuming media, news media and social media. When you get the notification that you’ve reached your limit, adhere to it and turn your mind towards something else. Stick to these time limits even when you’re not feeling overwhelmed. Further, consider using the downtime function on your devices that locks all of your apps between certain hours of the day.

Activity: Take 10 minutes to set limits on your most-used apps and set downtime for your devices.


5. Decide on news sources you want to follow and the medium. There is a lot of noise on the internet, in print, and on television. Decide on your trusted sources and stick to those. Also, decide on the best way for you to consume the media, whether through print, podcast, newsletter, etc.

Activity: Take 15 minutes to survey and unsubscribe from any newsletters, podcasts, blogs, forums, etc. that are cluttering your inbox, subscription feed, etc.


6. Make Twitter lists. I *love* Twitter. Love it. One of the most underrated functionalities of the app, in my opinion, is the ability to make lists. Lists allow you to curate a feed from users you select. Consider making a list of your friends, one of your favorite journalists, activists, comedians, etc. This will allow you to have some control over what is popping up in your feed.

Activity: Take 5 minutes to make a Twitter list of people you know in real life who regularly make you smile.


7. Edit your Instagram (and other social media) feeds. Unfollow, mute, or unfriend those who post content that you don’t like. There are plenty of people who I enjoy in real life and do not enjoy online and that is fine. Simply make adjustments, as needed.

Activity: Take 5 minutes to unfollow, mute, or unfriend 5 people on your most-used social media site.


8. Implement a one-screen rule. This is pretty self-explanatory – use only one device at a time. So, if you’re watching television, then you’re not also on your phone or laptop. Give your attention to one thing to make it easy for your brain to process information.

Activity: Take 2 minutes to designate an area where each of your digital devices can rest when not in use.

Take care, y'all <3 



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