This is a tough time to be a teacher. Or a medical professional. Or a writer. Or a woman. OK- this is a tough time for all of us.
We are in year-two of a global pandemic, and we are in country deeply divided over how to proceed. We have those who are trying to politicize the public health crisis for personal gain, pandering to an extremist base. We have climbing numbers and children being impacted as never before.
The need to stay informed might cause us to check case numbers daily, or listen to the 24-hour news cycles, or surf social media endlessly. The desire to maintain some sort of emotional balance may make us want to climb into a bubble of isolation or run away to an isolated mountain top. So how do we manage these diametrically opposing urges?
I have struggled with this for weeks and come up with 4 non-negotiables for me:
- Limit contact with negative people and those without open-minds.
o We all know who these people are. The ones in your work space who have already made up their minds about vaccines, masks, and mandates. The friends who listen to extremist media outlets instead of medical and scientific experts. Your neighbors who manage to turn every news item into ammunition for their perspective. I avoid them- as much as possible.
- Balance the need to be well-informed with the need to be stress-free.
o I have selected specific times of day and specific news sources, (for example, listening to NPR on my way to and from school; reading the Sunday New York Times) to help me stay informed and that is it! I fight the urge to immerse myself in the daily news at other times, and I just scroll through links to other articles and stories. I have even pruned my social media accounts by hiding the posts of those friends who share the link to every hair-brained theory out there.
- Ignore what is out of your control/influence.
o I have decided that is not my job to comment on every post I see on-line, no matter how emotional it may make me feel. I do not need to jump into every water-cooler discussion. Others do not need to know my thoughts and opinions on everything. Unless, of course, I am specifically asked about something. In that case, I will share my thinking, my research, my sources- without the expectation that I will change anyone’s mind.
- Always be true to your values/morals.
o Doing what I know is right, is something I know I can live with long-term. What is deeply disturbing about the current climate of our nation, is that so many of the powers that be, and those in influential positions, are so hypocritical in their words and actions. They may profess to be spiritual and loving, yet they advocate positions and actions that are diametrically opposed to their own religious teachings. These again, are things out of my control. I know that I need to live my life in a way that is in alignment with the morals and values I hold. That includes listening to the scientific and medical experts, doing everything I can to make a positive difference in my community and world, and thinking about others.
Keeping yourself healthy emotionally should be every bit as important as keeping ourselves healthy physically. While we may be diligent about going to the gym and eating healthy, we need to also make some ground rules about keeping ourselves emotionally healthy. Especially at a time when we are being bombarded by so much misinformation and disinformation, designed for no other purpose than to appeal to our emotions and get us all worked up.