Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8, KJV).
In the years since the start of the pandemic, I’ve wrestled with staying informed and staying peaceful. I care about the world around me, but God knows how much energy I need for my own people. I’m sharing a few changes that helped balance my news intake and my stress level, and I hope they help you, too, if you need a step back.
- Let the story happen first. This is a big one. News outlets use the suspense of breaking news to keep you clicking. It’s efficient to skip the speculation stage, wait for more accurate information and less hype, and overall to slow down and learn the news on my own time.
- Get second-hand updates. Also a favorite, I’ve learned how chatting with friends and following informational social media can be a softer starting point than surfing the news. It helps filter out the hysteria while staying in touch. It also gives me a clue of what stories are important or interesting that I’ll want to look into further.
- Stay out of rabbit holes. I try to avoid behaviors like obsessing over a single story or needing deep, comprehensive answers to every single question. These days I scan headlines more and deep-dive less. There’s a time for learning and a time to let it go.
- Avoid bandwagons. Similar to #3, I choose deliberately to read. The media’s hyperfocus shouldn’t define all I care about. I can be intentional and free myself from being an activist for every just cause. Furthermore, the world doesn’t need me to compose a social media statement for every event happening.
- Read broader. As a US citizen, I find international sources can add fresh context and balance our self-focus.
- Assess my level of control. It helps to ask, what can I do? Am I needed in this story? Probably not. Or if I am, how long does it take to find a way to give, vote, or say a prayer? That’s enough. The story happened whether or not I ingest every last detail.
- Avoid anger-mongering & fearmongering. I was never a fan of these things before, but now? I avoid angry commentators like the plague. (And I like to avoid plagues.) It’s biblical and freeing. Highly recommend.
Looking back, I can see that it was worth it to cut back on my news intake. I think it’s necessary to stay informed, but what I needed to learn was some self-control and some honesty about what I was seeking. I can seek information from news, but I don’t ever want to be caught seeking peace from knowing what’s going on. News will never settle my mind. Only Jesus could do that, and I’m thankful He was there to help us all navigate such an unstable time.
Whatever is ahead, I’m thankful to know He’s there for us too! Hang in there!