The Power Of Checking In With Yourself

You have permission to step away from the world for a minute or two.

I keep seeing this comic pop up in my newsfeed. In it, two people are walking down the sidewalk and one says to the other: “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.” It really resonates with me, and it’s a safe bet it also resonates with the thousands of people who have shared it across multiple platforms.

None of us want to be seen as the kind of person who buries their head in the sand and ignores what’s going on around us. We like to stay informed, we like knowing what’s going on in the world. There’s also the fact that ignoring what’s going on in the world is a luxury not everyone has. It’s hard to ignore the threat of being a black child wearing a hoodie at night when you’re the parent of a black child.

But it’s draining, isn’t it? Trying to stay on top of all the terrible things that are happening in the world; being sad or mad or just plain broken about it robs us of the joy of living.

I’m not advocating tuning out the world entirely – ignorance may not be the bliss you imagine – but that doesn’t mean you have to live in it all the time.

The tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando has been weighing on me since it happened. There’s so much packed into that one event that’s heart-wrenching to even begin to consider. There’s the story about the mother who was there with her son and threw him to the ground, sacrificing her life to save his. There’s the number of couples who died there together. There’s the confirmation that even in a nightclub made specifically for our own community during a celebration meant to empower us, we are not safe. There’s even the story of the shooter himself, a bipolar man who may have also had an affiliation with the LGBT community.

It’s a lot to take on. It’s too much to take on. After a week of not being able to absorb anything, I decided to do something that’s hard for a social-media addict such as myself: I turned it all off.

I spent the weekend watching cartoons and knitting, cooking, and playing games with friends. I sat with myself. I didn’t focus on what was going on in the world, but I didn’t actively ignore it either. Slowly I let it seep into me, let it settle in my mind and heart. Instead of spending time reacting to tragic shares on Facebook, I let myself feel. I allowed myself to decide what I needed to process and read rather than battle a barrage of posts from equally heartbroken friends.

Pulling back is hard, but it’s essential for checking in with yourself. It’s easy to jump on an emotional bandwagon, especially one that seems justified and right. And maybe it is, but maybe the anger in those posts aren’t what you need to be feeling right now. It could be that what you need to do is meditate, pray or even cry. Maybe you need to go outside and plant a garden to remind yourself life still exists in the world and can be nurtured. Checking in with yourself is a vital part of self-care.

No-one can be in the thick of it all day, every day. You are not a slacker or a failure for needing a break. If you find yourself worn down and exhausted, turn off the noise and take a minute to listen to yourself. After all, you know better than Twitter how to handle the tragedies that have become our daily experience.

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Comment: What helps you relax in tumultuous times?