Garbage In Garbage Out

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on February 22, 2021 # Lifestyle

In the history of the world, people have never before lived where they are surrounded by so much media and information. The nature of recent years, with the political and health crises that seem to be infinite in our news cycle, lends itself to higher suicide rates, widespread depression and, in my experience, endlessly depressing conversations. Between the state of our country and the looming winter season, it seems like we can’t catch a break.Kristin holding her book Greater Things

The unfortunate truth of today is that our news cycle is filled – I’m talking filled – with bad news. I want to get back to how I remember the 6:00 news when I was a kid in the ‘90s: a lot less division and a lot more getting along. Or, maybe I was just a kid who paid a lot less attention. Undeniably, with every news alert and breaking story that we fill our heads with over dinner, the more of a hit our mental and emotional health takes; whether you see its manifestation or not, our bodies are paying the price.

So, what do we do? How can we preserve ourselves from the chaos of the world? The answer, my friends, might seem easier said than done (focus on the good stuff, and limit your intake of the bad stuff), but I’m here for you.

  1. Pace yourself. The best way to cope with continual pressures is to not let yourself get overloaded. The news is an easier one because we can just click off the television, but this can also look like excusing yourself from a conversation, turning off news-related push notifications from your phone, or taking a few minutes in silence each day. Everyone has a different limit, and you have to figure out what suits you.
  2. Pay attention to your body. Make a mental note of conversation topics or stimuli that raises your stress level, and work to diminish them. I realize that you might have an annoying coworker who drives you batty, it might bother you when people don’t accelerate their cars at green lights, or any of the other things we can’t control. You can’t avoid those, so go into those situations with your expectations set and a plan to not let yourself escalate.
  3. Find what works for you. There are a few stress management techniques that I go back to when I’m stressed out (exercise, a call or text with a friend, playing with my dog, eating a cookie), but one size does not fit all. Some of you like meditation, some know how to do yoga, and some of you even like cats. Find your go-to’s and remember them when you feel people or the world pulling on your cortisol levels.
  4. Connect. Across the board, one of the biggest threats to your mental health is feeling disconnected from people around you, hobbies you love, or your daily routines. Whether because of a move to a new city or a change of appearance of your every day, I think we can all relate to the feeling of being shook. To get out of that funk, try making a new or connect with an old friend; make time in your routine for something that makes you happy; or find a way to merge into new habits.
  5. Now, for our most elusive-sounding option, focus on the positive. This is tricky because it takes concerted effort even just to find some positive to focus on but, as I’m sure we all know, it’s so important for our physical and mental well-being. That was the main thought behind a project my fiancé, Christopher, and I started called The Chirpy Times. This is an online blog where we find 3-5 positive news articles per week, and report on them. It’s a good project for us because it forces us to not only search for and engage with good news stories, but we also get to spread some positivity with you. Our vision behind this project was to flip the script on the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” We want to put some good news in your feed, with hopes that you’ll spread some joy out in the world.

You may have heard the quote by Charles Swindoll, "…life is only 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." We have a new year and a new opportunity to take charge of how we react to the bad and stressful things in our world. Will you let them stress you out and impair you? Or, will you take a long stride toward preserving yourself and your attitude, in spite of the bad and stressful things? You have to decide, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.