Staying Informed, Keeping Sane

I’ve been consciously working on finding a balance between staying informed about our national politics and keeping myself sane.

Last night before getting ready for bed, I checked my facebook page. I clicked open an article about current political disinformation campaigns. I sensed it was a bad time to do so, but I read it anyway as I flossed my teeth.

Angry, dire and judgmental thoughts flooded my head as I went on to brush my teeth, wash my face and push the button on my alarm clock. I slipped into bed and lay there, feeling a tide of panic and despair. I tried to recall more balanced, rational thoughts. Soothing thoughts that might allow me to at least set my concerns aside until morning, but they couldn’t find purchase in the clamor going on in my head. 

Self judgment joined the din: why did I need to check Facebook at eleven pm? why did I click open that article, which I knew would rile me up? And then my inability to coach myself, to talk myself down.  

On and on. One am, one thirty. Thoughts of the alarm going off at six, with no hope of sleep in sight, panic rising. 

I thought of the Ann Patchett novel next to me on the bedside table. A book light next to it. Would that help? And would I be proving my inability to self coach?

I remembered a story a teacher of mine told: a car at the top of a hill, parking brake failing. The slight possibility that one could, if noticed right away, use physical force to hold it back before it began to roll, or maybe jump into the car and get control of it before got going. But that once that car got moving the momentum would cause it to pick up speed and the best thing to do at that point would be to wait til it got the the bottom of the hill, or hit something that would stop it. The wisest thing would be to get out of the way, knowing it will eventually come to a standstill, and then assess and deal with the consequences.

I felt around in the dark for my book and clip on book light. The story diverted my attention and eventually gratefully I clicked off the light, slipped the bookmark between the pages and rolled over to get some sleep. When the alarm went off at six, I turned it off and slept until nine. 

In the morning I assessed the damage: I slept through Zumba class. 

What I gained: a reminder to listen to my gut, a renewed commitment to calm evenings and the value of good sleep. And a reminder for a compassionate approach to self coaching- it’s not a contest, it’s just a tool to be used when helpful and practical. 

In the light of morning, I was able to think about the article I’d read online with less anger, less despair. I recommitted to compassion, as well as truth and integrity. I recommitted to my faith in humans and the human experience. I felt clear and calm. Mind and heart open and engaged.

Staying informed, keeping sane.

Credit: Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash