‘Relentless Brexit news coverage is really hurting our mental health’, reports Wired. I know from first-hand experience how disruptive the arguments on social media (and elsewhere) over Brexit can be to our patterns of thought. Relax … this isn’t a post about whether it’s better to remain the EU or leave. This is about how mindfulness can help at times of disruption and stress.
I can almost directly attribute my mindful meditation practice to my use of social media and Brexit. Let me explain …
For a while I became a bit obsessed with Brexit, in the form of being a keyboard warrior on Twitter. Twitter brings a little feeling of power, tweeting directly to politicians I disagreed with and calling them out on their … er … inaccuracies. I enjoyed retweeting stuff I agreed with or commenting when a Tweet was clearly wrong (in my not-so-humble opinion). I’d continually read newspapers and watch rolling news, waiting for the slightest change in the story.
Then I noticed … after I’d spent too much time on Twitter, I’d be in a terrible place mentally. Yes, when someone challenged my point of view; and more than that – when I’d been reading my timeline and getting drawn into negative energies.
I knew others were taking a break from Twitter or deleting their account entirely. A full social media detox is a very 2019 thing to do and for good reason.
I knew that adding my tweets to the noise made very little difference (while at the same I also knew that, if everyone thought their shouts into to wilderness would make no difference we really would be lost). At the same time, being active on Twitter was making a real impact on my ability to focus on life and have a clear mind.
Now I’ve cut back on my consumption of the news, while staying in touch with developments. We don’t need 24 hour rolling news to keep in touch. I do still tweet, but spend little time aimlessly scrolling through my timeline and try to tweet with compassion (and when I can’t find something worthwhile to say I don’t say anything). I guess I’m more of a non-participant observer now and observing from an increasing long distance away.
And yes, it feels good. I still know, in outline, what’s happening. I can always dive in and find out more when I need. With a clearer, more mindful, approach, I can make a compassionate contribution in areas where I can be most effective.
If we could all be a little calmer much of the current disruptive atmosphere could be handled better. I know my new approach isn’t for everyone. Some are naturally drawn to activism. We probably need those people too since I’m not arguing that we should passively accept whatever the extremities of politics throw at us. Of course, I still have days when I’m shouting at my monitor screen and feeling the need to add to the chaos. They are decreasing though.
Perhaps if we could all be a little more mindful, taking just a few minutes each day to observe our thoughts and come fully into the present moment, our society could find a way back from the extremes.
Care to join me in giving it a chance?