By Laura Clay
You used to be able to escape from the news. You could put down the newspaper, turn off the TV and not think about it anymore. But then came the internet, social media and smartphones. Now, the news has become a 24/7 presence in our lives, a running dialogue of dramatic, heartbreaking and often terrifying stories.
For many people, this never-ending news ticker causes overwhelming anxiety and feelings of fear. This fear often causes us to alter our behavior, keeping us from living our lives to the fullest. Some even begin to experience agoraphobia—a disorder that causes people to fear certain places and situations.
In the late 1890s the term “Yellow Journalism” was coined to describe the dramatic headlines and sensationalized news stories being churned out by two major newspapers in New York in an attempt to sell the most papers. Sometimes they used made-up sources and exaggerated events, long before the term “fake news.” In 1908, The National Press Club was created and helped promote a style of journalism with a focus on ethics and standards.
One hundred years later, the internet and social media created new challenges to the sale of paper newspapers, resulting in a revival of some of the old habits and techniques from the days of “Yellow Journalism.” In a digital world, the quest is for clicks and views, rather than newspaper sales, and the stories are delivered right into our line of sight by our friends and family members on Facebook or through news apps on our phones.
Of course, we can put our phones down. We can click off of the news sites, avoid social media and shield ourselves from the stories that seem to be an endless reminder that the world is full of danger and hatred. So then why don’t we? Well, for one thing, our brains do not want us to.
You see, our smartphones give us a steady stream of social interaction, which makes our brains release dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good and makes us want to repeat the behavior that made us feel that way. So, we pick up our phones over and over again throughout the day to get that social interaction and that dopamine.
The good news is that addictions can be broken and new habits formed. Below are some things to try.
Fight Technology with Technology
You can find several different apps to limit access to your smartphone. Some apps allow you to shut down certain sites or programs and others restrict access during certain times of day. In fact, if you own an iPhone, you can even set limits on your actual phone.
Getting outside can help you feel centered and at peace. Whether you take a long, vigorous hike or sit quietly outside, nature is the perfect antidote to some of the stresses of the larger world.
Bond with Your Pets
Studies have shown that when we gaze at our pets, our brains release oxytocin, otherwise known as the love hormone. As dog and cat lovers know, sometimes the best therapy is to simply snuggle with our pets to make stress just melt away.
Reiki Energy Healing
A Reiki practitioner seeks to channel universal life energy and direct it to flow through their client’s body in order to balance the chakras. Through Reiki, a practitioner can help move energetic blocks to balance out a chakra that is related to a specific issue that a person is trying to overcome. Stress blocks the flow of energy, therefore weakening it. A Reiki master can help overcome those blocks and restore the flow of energy.
Holistic Life Coaching
Holistic Life Coaching helps clients work through difficult emotions, align with their authentic self and resolve issues in a safe environment. Holistic Life Coaching can help a person break through negative beliefs about the world and themselves while redirecting those thoughts into positive, self-confident thoughts that help them move forward in life.
So give yourself a break from the negativity that is at your fingertips. Put your phone on ‘Do not disturb’ or turn it off for a few hours. Choose who you let into your ‘brain.’ Read positive articles right here in Conscious Community. Try one or more of the suggestions above. If you still need help, reach out to someone who provides Reiki and life coaching. You do have a choice when it comes to what you allow into your stream of consciousness.
Laura Clay, therapist and founder of Forward Emotion, LLC, a private practice in Lisle, Illinois. Other providers are Sabrina Washington, an expert in Reiki and Holistic Life Coaching and Erica Sokol, a therapist that specializes in positive body image. Visit www.forwardemotion.com.