Let’s be honest, life over the past few months has been challenging to say the least. This has been recently intensified by the news of the tragic death of George Floyd and the events that succeeded it.
Exacerbated by the lockdown, I imagine I’m not alone in spending more of my time scrolling through Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/the News and absorbing the same grim stories again and again.
So how can we make sure we’re limiting the amount we take in from these media, and processing it in a productive way? Well, I haven’t got all the answers, but I have got some tips that have helped me. Pull up a chair, and we’ll dive right in…
Okay. Let’s start very simply with physical boundaries. When it gets to the early hours and I find myself still online, I try to set myself time limits. It could be something like: “Tomorrow night, if I’m still struggling to get to sleep before the morning chorus, I’ll allow myself Twitter until 1am before I pop down my phone (already on “night-time” mode to get rid of any blue light emission) and pick up a book.” A loose schedule like this has, over time, helped to train my mind to wind down and divert my attention to something separate to current affairs right before I drift off into a deep, magical, dreamy sleep.
Another thing I Iike to do to distract my mind is get some fresh air. It really does me the world of good when I pop out for a quick half-hour walk. Short and often is fine if you’re not keen on longer jaunts, but a long-ish walk to a local river can feel amazing. A good podcast or playlist, family member, or friend can take the walk to another level.
Also, I’ve discovered a newfound happiness in my garden. I know I am super lucky to have one, and I’ve been making good use of its growing capabilities before I’m back in student digs (infamous for their lack of gardens). Flowers can be grown on almost any windowsill, indoor plants can brighten up any home, and even just popping open a window to listen to some birds can be heavenly. Whenever I’ve felt overwhelmed, I’ve often used my plants/garden to feel grounded and refreshed, so it could be helpful for you too.
Perhaps it’s because this is how I have learned to feel calm and relaxed, but cooking, baking, painting, crafting, scrapbooking, writing, and singing (cue a song by The Sound of Music family) are all things I do and have found the time to do a lot more in recent weeks. Creative endeavours have been a saving grace, and a mindful activity offers the opportunity to reflect on the constant flow of grim information (GRIMformation?). I like to take the time to plan a meal, adapt the ingredients depending on what’s in the cupboards, cook (whilst listening to my favourite Spotify playlist) and feed the whole family. I won’t lie, I think presenting vegan fried chicken made from scratch, with some flavourful Caribbean curries (with herbs from my own garden) and hot rice, comes with a certain feeling of accomplishment I have rarely found elsewhere.
My final pearl of wisdom is this: taking time for ME. I’ve found joy in: having a bubble bath (yes, I really did say BUBBLE bath; trust me, it’s so much better), putting on some makeup (for no other reason than to go to Asda), writing in my diary (or the notes app on your phone will do), and lighting some incense and sitting in my warm, dimly-lit bedroom. Of course, make of these examples what you will. But what I mean to say is, be kind to yourself and take some time to do whatever it is that makes you smile. If it’s off-screen, that’s even better.
Recent events across the world have taken their toll on us all, whether you are involved in any activism or not. The emotive videos that have seeped into all our Facebook timelines, and the News stories that follow them, are hard to ignore. Here’s just a few ways that have helped me to process it all, which, in turn, gives me time to think about how I can make a positive impact in this car crash of a year. I hope these examples have shown you ways you can recharge your batteries in a way that’s right for you.