How Do You Unplug From Stressful Things Without Unplugging From Awesome People?

So I’ve been incommunicado for a while due to a sudden and immense unexpected increase in life stress which will hopefully be over soon, although that will be just in time for me to have another long time where it will be most likely impossible for me to blog.

I have a question that’s important for me right now, though, in the interest of engaging in continuing self-care.

When you’re an activist-type person who knows and follows huge bunches of activists-type people, what strategies do you use to unplug from all of the horrible things going on in the world for a while? In particular, are there strategies you use to do that without also ending up mostly out of touch with those same people?

I think it’s great that the circles I run and are so full of people who are so conscious and conscientious about everything going on in the world around us, but there are times where the best thing for me, my situation, my anxiety, my depression, and my offense stress-induced chronic pain issues is to just take a break for a while. Sometimes the continuous stream of “oh look, more bigotry in media”, “oh look, my country is killing civilians for no reason again”, “oh look, global warming is horrible and everywhere”, “oh look, another person I used to look up to is actually a horrible bigot” on top of general life stress becomes overwhelming.

The thing about that is that taking a break from the stream of All the Horrible Things That Are Going On in the World basically requires unplugging from all social media, because people tend to use pretty much all of those to spread messages about what’s going on. So is there a way to disconnect from all of that without also disconnecting from the social circles and support systems in which you see them?

I can’t be the only one who needs to do this from time to time; what strategies do you guys use?

By ResearchToBeDone Posted in other

6 comments on “How Do You Unplug From Stressful Things Without Unplugging From Awesome People?

  1. Miri: we definitely do things already that are like this but not this… like having the feminist coding group, or in my case, a progressive brewing group, etc. I think one way to shut out the stress but not the people is to focus on a specific activity that your friends are a part of, and surround yourself with that context. It isn’t perfect, but it is less stressful communicating with friends when, say, you’re all part of an anime group and you can let your guard down. I don’t know a perfect solution to this problem, but this has been useful for me at least.

  2. You can use things like Snapchat and regular ol’ texting/IMing to keep in touch with some of your awesome peeps. You can also make a list on Twitter of people who generally don’t post things that are mega-stressful, or maybe a couple different lists? You could check out only certain Facebook groups if you feel like Facebooking.

    Throwing some ideas around

  3. The problem with focusing too much energy on Bad Things (you know it’s too much when you feel like Everything Sucks) is that this is a skewed way to look at the whole of humanity. When taken as a whole, we are living in the most peaceful time we have ever known. When taken down to specific people all around you, basic Good happens everywhere!

    In order not to send yourself into bad mental places, it is hella important to back the fuck up and see the whole, and also to zoom in on all the very many really Good Things that happen all the time, everywhere we are, but that are not shoved in our faces all the time like Bad Things are.

    Yes, we will always need to improve things for everyone. No question.

    No, humanity is not a festering stew of horror. Bad shit’s egregious and needs tending to in the worst way, but it is NOT everywhere all the time as media insist.

    My personal recipe for mental stability is to follow enough activists to stay aware, and to share some of that to spread awareness to others who might help where I can’t. Awareness is good. But to balance that, I follow a lot of people who just post day to day personal stuff, or writing advice, or amazing photos, or are very funny with each other. Because I love Twitter and G+ and I don’t want to step out, I give myself a balanced diet of humans who are capitol G Good. I block those who are abusive, closed-minded, antagonistic. And I limit following heavy tweeters, those who go on and on about Very Bad Things, particularly when I already know about the topic.

    Paying attention to the point of hurting yourself is not the point of awareness, and it hurts your ability to be an activist in real life, where it counts the most.

  4. This is a tough one. I know that I and a number of my friends take occasional social media hiatuses, but for me (and at least some of them) this is related not just to needing to disconnect from the awful, but to a general need to hermit out for a while – usually I can’t handle social gatherings of more than a few people during these periods either.

    The way I do this without totally losing it, is that I have a handful of core people in my life who I see/communicate with regularly no matter what (my husband, my best friends, my sweetie), who I know I can just be like “let’s talk about happy things, ok?” and have that be what happens. So I still get my social-emotional needs met, just in smaller doses. And those people can let me know if anything major happens with our mutual friends, so.

    I hope you find a way of coping that works for you ❤

  5. Maybe this is too clumsy of an idea to be useful, but what if you and some friends make a Facebook group for sharing random personal life updates, cool things we like, photos of stuff we’re up to, etc?

    I would really appreciate something like this too, but for very different reasons than you. (My reasons are that so many people follow me just for the political stuff and I often feel bad posting just random things about my life because I’m like “who gives a fuck”)

    If you made a group like that, you could collaboratively agree on what to avoid posting in the group (i.e. news stories, political stuff, etc).

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