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Break / Make / Take : Coping with News Anxiety

 

Positive News

 

Anxiety is something I've struggled with my entire life in various forms. At some points in my life, it's lessened; at others (like now), it's heightened to the point that, on some days, it feels almost unbearable. But, given my occupation and my desire to try to make my life better from the inside out, I'm always striving to assess and better understand my anxiety so I can counter it with calmness and positivity. Recently, one of the things that's been a big anxiety trigger for me is news. I used to think news was boring and depressing. I could never understand why people would want to watch all of the chaos going on around the world; the negativity just seemed like too much, especially since most people watch without taking action. 

Now, at this particular moment in American history, so much is going on (or so it seems!) that I find myself engaged and interested, waiting with bated breath to see what will happen next. While I believe it's a positive thing I've chosen to seek out information -- knowledge, after all, is power -- I notice a huge uptick in my anxiety when I spend time scrolling through Twitter and reading articles about the latest political and global situations. 

I don't want to -- nor do I know if I could -- go back to my old head-in-the-sand ways, but I also don't want to spend my life being made neurotically anxious by staying on top of the up-to-the-minute, never-ending parade of news. Keeping abreast of the latest happenings feels like I'm doing something -- I'm an active, conscious adult, knowing what's going on at the world at all times! -- reading and worrying about the latest news story isn't actually doing anything. 

All of the energy I spend obsessing over the news (something I never would have done in the past) drains me emotionally, and the stress of it takes away from actual productive progress -- of the political and personal variety. We only have so much energy given to us each day, and it's important that we all be aware of where that energy goes. So, what's a girl to do when she wants to stay informed, but doesn't want to be inundated by anxiety? 

I don't have an easy, get-calm-quick scheme, but I have discovered a three-step plan that's been helping me. If you're struggling with news anxiety, I'm hoping this will help you too. 

 

BREAK REFLEXIVE READING HABITS 

If you're like me, it's tempting to go on Twitter and binge on the latest headlines, but all of that excessive consumption doesn't necessarily make me more informed. Quite often, I'm simply reading similar stories or random people's perspectives on a topic. Instead of social media binges, it's a good idea to have a few (credible!) sources where you get your news -- maybe at a set time each day. I'd also highly recommend reading opposing views as well. If you decide CNN is going to be your go-to source, consider switching to FOX or MSNBC periodically for a different perspective. You don't have to agree with everything you see or read, but it's important to take in a variety of sources. Also, be mindful of how often you check for news. While I don't think I could ever go back to being uninformed, it does me no good to check the news dozens of times a day. It's much more useful not to keep tabs on the latest stream of commentary, but to seek out well-informed, well-researched articles by experts who are open-minded and thoughtful. 

 

MAKE SOMETHING MEANINGFUL 

One of most challenging -- and anxiety-producing -- aspects of news intake is the helplessness that often comes along with it. So often, there are stressful stories or tales of those who are suffering, and, with all that's going on in the world, it can be frustrating and overwhelming to feel as if, even though you're informed, you can't actually do anything meaningful. But that's a falsehood we perpetuated by believing that meaning comes only from large, sweeping actions. The reality in which we all live is made up of moments, and every moment is a chance to make something meaningful. Make a connection with a smile; make a friend with a conversation; make a piece of art to express your emotions (and share it with others to inspire or connect with them); make time for yourself (the more at peace you are internally, the more external progress you can make). There are so many ways to create meaning in your life. While these might not feel directly related to what you see on the news, never forget that everything is oddly, beautifully intertwined. The goodness, positivity, and contributions you put into the world matter -- they have a ripple effect and you never know how wide those ripples might spread. 

 

TAKE TANGIBLE, IN-REAL-LIFE ACTION

It can be tempting to consider sharing a post or retweeting a story to be doing something, but it's not the same as taking real action. Social media is not social action. If you're feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with the world around you, you're never going to feel a relief from that anxiety by simply liking a tweet or Facebook post. To feel a sense of fulfillment, you have to do something. We live in a time where we have the world at our fingertips; whatever you want to do, whatever cause you want to help, all you have to do is Google it and you'll most likely find a list of things you can do to make a difference. No matter what you feel passionate about -- or how much time, money, and energy you have -- there's something you can do. And, take it from my experience, taking action (no matter how small!) feels infinitely better than clicking a like button. Plus, when you're actually doing something -- whether it's donating your time, researching how to help a cause, or working toward positive change -- you have less time to endlessly scroll! 

 

I know I'm not alone when it comes to news anxiety -- particularly of the social media variety -- and I know these three tips won't work perfectly for everyone, so if you have any additional ideas or tips that have worked for you, I'd love to hear them in the comments below! And remember: the more you follow the Break / Make / Take method, the less anxiety you'll have. And the less anxiety you have, the more you can make positive progress! 

 

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Positively Present Picks : February 24, 2017

 
Do You Love You


Quote-of-the-week

"Detach from what destroys you." 

R.H. Sin

 

Links-I-Love

NEW VIDEO : I show you (+ gush over) Adam J. Kurtz's new products

How to Read More : the first one is the one I struggle with big time!

Mindfulness Matters : so cool! a game to help practice mindfulness

When Things Go Missing : reflections on two seasons of loss 

7 Standards We Need to Stop Sticking to : let them go + free yourself

Why Do Anything? : a great piece reflecting on procrastination 

Think of Choices as Effects, Not Causes : love this thought shift

25 Ways to Celebrate Kindness : do something kind for someone today

Wordigo : have you ever experienced this? I certainly have!

Forest of Numbers : wow, this art installation is really beautiful

How to Make Friends : the first one is absolutely vital for friendship

I Am Here Now : I love the look of this mindfulness journal

What Being an Adult Feels Like : this is so true and it made me laugh

Trumbomb Deck : had this for awhile but love it more than ever!

Staying In Is the New Going Out : couldn't agree with this more ;)

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!


"Xanax" — Elohim
"I Was Born a Dreamer" — SHEL
"Goodbye" — Filous
"It Ain't Me" — Kygo ft. Selena Gomez
"It Takes a Lot to Know a Man" — Damien Rice
"Love"— Lana Del Ray
"Days Move Easy" — Chase McBride
"Paris" — The Chainsmokers
"Bittersweet Records" — Krista Marina
"I Want You" — Wrabel

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

The Positivity Kit
Lisa Currie

Healer
Carol Cassella

All the Single Ladies
Rebecca Traister
 

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present

    

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Some links may be affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page. 


Chasing Slow (Online) + a GIVEAWAY!

Thinking Living

 

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Erin Loechner's Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path. I receive a lot of books in the mail, but I only write about them here in special cases -- and this is definitely one of those cases. I'd seen the book around online for weeks, popping up in various Instagram feeds and mentioned in articles and podcasts, but I wasn't sure if it was a book for me. I've loved Erin's work on Design for Mankind for years, but I was nervous that the religious elements of the book wouldn't resonate with me, a childless, agnostic atheist. But as I kept noticing it more and more places -- and kept getting drawn to the title and the book's beautiful, simple aesthetic -- I decided I needed to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. 

Not only is the book beautifully designed, including beautiful photos and little journal prompts throughout, but it's also incredibly inspiring, especially for anyone who spends a lot of time online (like bloggers) or on your phone (like most of us). The book covers a variety of topics -- blogging, success, motherhood, mindfulness, work/life balance, and more -- but one of the topics that resonated most with me is the topic of social media. You might have read my post, Inspired Unfollowing: A Week of Conscious Content Choice, earlier this year, and so you know I'm thinking a lot social media and how it can impact the amount of positivity in your life. 

In the book, Erin writes about how she learned that "thinking about living is not the same as living." Those words -- particularly in relation to social media -- really hit home with me. When we're online -- whether it's reading blog posts, checking email, scrolling through social media, reading news, etc. -- we're, for the most part, thinking and consuming, rather than living and doing. Through the book, Erin brings up the question What am I looking for? and when I read those words, I was stopped in my tracks because one thing I love about my online life is the looking. I love that I can find almost anything I'm looking for at almost any time. I love that, in that looking, I've found newness: new friends, new items, new ideas, etc. I love the hunt. But, as Erin so wisely writes:  

The same hunger that seeks community, togetherness, discovery, and expression also roars with pride — with self-doubt, comparison, envy, loneliness. Online, we fed ourselves both.

For every force, there is an opposing force. Though the online world is amazing and inspiring at times, it's also uncharted and overwhelming at times. It's both wonderful and terrible. We spend so much time looking, and, as Erin writes, "Sometimes, when we're looking for what we want, we find what we need." In reading Erin's book, that's what happened to me. When I picked up the book, I was looking for information on how to take some of the stress out of my life, but I found something else: and important reminder and incredibly insightful wisdom on how I'm using technology in my life. 

Her words on Pinterest -- my most popular social media platform -- were particularly eye-opening for me. (If you're not a Pinterest fan, imagine that this is about a different platform, or whatever aspect of life you turn to to see what "perfect" looks like.)

Pinterest has, in a few short years, become an addicting escape, and impossible standard, an invaluable resource. A synonym for perfect... Who could've seen the downside as we pressed our noses to the screen, eyes widening with wonder, watching as our dreams scrolled by, pin after pin after pin? Who could've known that more isn't what we truly need? You could've known that more would make us feel like less?

Seeking more -- more information, more followers, more inspiration, more perfection -- almost always makes us feel like less because, after all, when you're seeking more, you're essentially saying, Right now is not enough. And, on a more personal level, I am not enough. 

This feeling becomes amplified when you work online. You begin, as Erin writes, "to see yourself as one dimensional, a girl on the screen." For many bloggers and online creators, there's a huge gap between the images on the screen and the real person behind those images (as anyone who knows me in real life knows well!). To keep up with what we do, bloggers need to be online and on social media. But finding balance (particularly for those like me, who have strongly addictive personalities) online and on social media is incredibly challenging. 

When your personal identity is so intricately linked with your online presence, this becomes even more complex. Erin writes, "Identity is a powerful force. We rarely see ourselves as others do, and we often view the world — our own, someone else's — through a distorted lens." We want to believe that who we are is not what we do online, but the more time you spend online, the more the line between our identity and our technology becomes blurred. At one point in the book, Erin is writing about Adam and Eve and she says, "In the pursuit of knowledge, they lost wisdom. In the pursuit of themselves, they lost themselves." To me, this says a lot about who we are now, at this point in society. So many of us are seeking some validation or understanding of ourselves online, and, frustratingly, we still feel misunderstood. Erin writes: 

I do feel misunderstood, but the one doing the misunderstanding is me. The one doing the misunderstanding is the one who wrongly assumed my social media profile and smiling square image must perfectly capture who I am. That my presence online must perfectly match my present off-line. That who I am is what I do, that my outsides match my insides...

...But what do we know of comparing our self to ourselves? What do we know of comparing our richest reality to the one-dimensional screen? What do we know a flattening our identities so they can be cropped, manipulated, forced into one-liners and profile explanations?

This whole online world -- and how it relates to who we are and who we'll become as a society -- is still so new, relative to the whole of humanity. But, with the ever-growing online world, something honest, something true is being lost. When I read these words in the book -- "On a good day, I tell the truth on Instagram.… But on most days, I don't write what I think in that moment. I write what I think others expect me to think in that moment." -- I found myself sighing deeply in recognition. As Erin puts it, "Our culture is prone to concealing what is.… Under-the-rug sweeping is the default." Social media only exaggerates this tendency of ours to push away the imperfect. Social media is often criticized for being an addictive, mindless, time-suck, but, as Erin puts it, that's not the true danger: 

The dangers of social media or far subtler than the distraction, than the addiction, than the habits we form by scrolling through screens multiple times a day... social media has encouraged us to crop out the contradictions in ourselves. It has caused us to airbrush the parts of our lives we don't love about ourselves. It has caused us to sweep our personalities — whether too big or too small — under a Moroccan Pinterest rug in the name of a consistent social media presence. In the name of online optimism.

The most worrisome aspect of social media isn't the time we spend on it or even the sometimes soul-crushing comparisons we make between the screens and our real lives. The most problematic aspect of social media is what it does to our personal identities when it encourages us to crop and summarize and condense who we are into a limited amount of space. Social media can feel spacious -- a variety of platforms from which we can see the world and connect globally -- but it's actually incredibly restrictive. We are not flat, square images. We are not black text on a white screen. We are endless shapes and colors and moods and feelings. We are complex and intricate and mysterious. We are gloriously imperfect shades of gray. Erin writes: 

Excepting that we are gray, that we are flawed, that we are a great many things, is one of the most difficult parts of today's information society. We are taught that knowledge is power, that what we do not yet know can be explained and placed in a box on the shelf, lid sealed until further notice. We spend our time on social networks attempting to condense our personalities into tiny profile boxes, trying to verbalize intricacies within flattened screens.

The intricacies of who we are as people cannot be accurately conveyed through a screen, no matter how many images, words, or videos we share. Our truest selves will always be present only in real life, and only in the ever-shifting day-to-day interactions and thoughts and emotions we have. We can do our best to tick of boxes and define who we are, but no definition will ever be enough to encapsulate the whole of who you truly are. As Erin so wisely puts it: "We are not either/ors. We are both/ands."

All of this online / social media stuff is just one aspect of this amazing book. In reading it, you'll not only gain insights into Erin's story (which, I feel, many people will relate to in some way -- whether it's as a blogger, a parent, a friend, a spouse, or just a person trying to make the most of what she's been given in this life), but you'll also gain tons of unexpected inspiration. I really enjoyed reading it, and I'm so glad I picked it up. (A reminder that, just because something doesn't necessarily tick off all of the boxes you identify with, it doesn't mean it won't teach you amazing things.) I'd highly recommend you read it, and I'm so thankful that Erin's publisher has agreed to give away a copy! 

  Chasing Slow


How to Enter

Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry!   


Giveaway Details

  • Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
  • Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances
  • Winner will be chosen + notified on February 27, 2017
  • Giveaway open to US residents only

 


Positively Present Picks : February 17, 2017

 
Dani-DiPirro-New-Doors


Quote-of-the-week

"Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety,
when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act."

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

Links-I-Love

Status Anxiety about Happiness : it's a big problem here in America

Spirit Pig Interview : check out my interview on iTunes here

What I Am Trying to Say to You : these postcards are everything

Ban These Words from Your Vocabulary : you'll be glad you did! 

7 Things Highly Resilient People Don't Do : avoid these for a resilient life

In Defense of Silence : I've been thinking a lot about this lately...

20 Habits that Can Change Your Life : #6 is changing mine right now

The Hell No Hustle Club : overwhelmed? overworked? join the club! 

What Happens When You Take a Full Month Away from Internet?

Co-working with Pets : 7 tips to make it a happy experience

Masterpiece and Mess : you can be both at the very same time

How to Be Present When You Can't Stop Thinking : it's hard, but possible!

25 Famous Women on Anxiety + Depression : you're not alone

The Way of Openness : how to move away from comfort + security

Chromotherapy : how colors impact your mood (they're powerful!)

10 Rules for Being Successful on Your Own Terms : you define success 

Essential Self-Love Practices in an Uncertain World : love starts with you

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
Finally on Spotify! Follow me!


"Chained to the Rhythm" — Katy Perry
"Break Out" — AUST
"Wintergloves" — Coco Melies
"Begin Again" — Measure
"Habits (Stay High)" — Young Rising Sons
"Cold"— Maroon 5 ft. Future
"Don't Kill My Vibe" — Sigrid
"Ego" — Milky Chance
"John Wayne" — Lady Gaga
"Ran" — Future Islands

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

Healer
Carol Cassella

The Book of Hygge:
The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection
Louisa Thomsen Brits

All the Single Ladies
Rebecca Traister
 

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life*

Effortless Inspiration Series:
Gratitude, Living in the Moment, 
Compassion, and Forgiveness*

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present*

    

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*Some links may be affiliate links. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a commission. There is no additional cost to you if you use these links, and I will never share links for products I haven't or wouldn't purchase myself. For more information on affiliate links, please visit the Terms of Use page. 


The Great 8 Challenge + 8 Years of Blogging!

 

See Something
 

February 14 marks eight years since I wrote my first blog post on Positively Present! It's been an amazing ride so far, and I can't wait to see where things go from here. In celebration, I'm going to be sharing eight great things that have happened since that day I wrote my first post. But first, I wanted to challenge you to do something this week. Don't worry -- it's easy, and it'll actually feel really great! 

 

THE GREAT 8 CHALLENGE

As I was writing this post in celebration of the past eight years and reflecting on how grateful I am to have this experience, I was reminded of my ultimate goal (as a writer and as a human): to somehow make the world a little bit better. I know I'm not alone in this. Most of us want to make the world better, but sometimes that task can feel daunting.

If I've learned one thing over the past eight years, it's that little things can make a big difference. This week, I encourage you to give the Great 8 Challenge a try. It's simple: all you have to do is give eight compliments. Yep, that's it! If you see someone wearing something you like, tell him/her. If you read something that inspires you, email the author. If you you spot a post on Instagram you love, write a comment. 

It might seem small, especially in a world where we need grand gestures of kindness and compassion, but a positive word has a ripple effect. After all, think about the last compliment you received. Didn't it just feel so great to hear someone say something nice to you? And think about the last time you gave a compliment. That felt pretty great too, didn't it? Those great feelings can multiply. A compliment might feel like a small thing, but it ultimately can have a great big impact. 

This week, if you see something beautiful / inspiring / amazing / cool, say something. Aim for eight compliments, but go for more if you can! 

 

POSITIVELY PRESENT'S GREAT 8

And, now, on to eight great things about Positively Present!

Now, this might seem like I'm tooting my own horn, writing about eight great things about my own blog, but here's the thing: a blog is bigger than the person that writes it. As much as I use this platform as a tool to share my words and art, it's been greatly influenced by the readers. When I'm writing, I'm thinking about you. In fact, when I'm living, I'm often thinking about you, imagining how I can turn my life into something more positive, more present, more self-loving to share with you. So, yes, there's an element of horn-tooting here, but none of these things would have happened without your engagement, interest, and input. 

Here are eight great things that've happened (and I've learned from) since February 14, 2009. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being with me and helping making these things happen. I hope that reading about them will inspire you, too! 

 

  1. PP GOT ME OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. 

    If you've been following since the beginning, you might recall how shy I was at first. It took me two months to even mention my first name! I'm not a shy person in real life (though I am incredibly introverted!), but online it took a lot of courage for me to come out of my little comfort zone and open about who I was. Since then, I've come a long way -- sharing more personal information, opening up about tough topics, and connecting with readers in real life. I still struggle with venturing out of my comfort zone at times, but Positively Present continues to inspire me to try new things. 


  2. PP PROVED ALL THE HATERS WRONG. 

    I don't have a lot of haters, but there are some people in my life (and even a little voice in my own head) who didn't think I could do what I'd always wanted to do -- be an independent writer not answering to a boss or going into an office every day. Through the power of the internet, I've been able to make my ideal work scenario a reality. I used to spend nights crying about going into the office, and I remember one guy in particular saying something along the lines of, "That's life. Get used to it." Because of this site, I didn't have to get used to living a life I hated. 


  3. PP MADE MY LIFE-LONG DREAM COME TRUE. 

    Not only did Positively Present give me the opportunity to live a work life outside of the box, but it also provided a platform on which I was able to make my life-long dream come true: publishing a book! Not only did I write and publish a book, but so far I've written six of them! If you want to check them out, here they are: Stay Positive: Daily Reminders from Positively Present, The Positively Present Guide to Life, Living in the Moment, Gratitude, Compassion, and Forgiveness. Plus, I'm working on a new one right now and I'm SO excited to share it soon! 


  4. PP TAUGHT ME TO FAIL + BE OKAY WITH IT. 

    As with any career path, I've had some major highs and lows. Because this isn't a traditional job, it's been a lot of trial and error (and it's still a work-in-progress!). I've spent hours and hours on e-books that no one bought. I've poured my heart and soul into blog posts that few people read. I've spent money on ideas and products that never quite gave me a return on my investment. Working for myself is hard. There are lots of failures that, thinking about now, make me cringe a bit. But I've learned to bounce back, to be resilient, and to learn from the failures. 


  5. PP INSPIRED ME TO LEARN NEW THINGS. 

    And, speaking of learning, one of the absolute greatest things that's happened as a result of this blog is the opportunity and desire I had to explore graphic design. It was something that had always interested me, but I never thought I could do it since I hadn't studied it in school. Because of Positively Present, I sought out online classes, spent countless hours learning, and now have my own little design business! If you want to work with me, check out DaniDiPirro.com for more info and my portfolio. 


  6. PP CONNECTED ME WITH AMAZING PEOPLE. 

    One thing almost every blogger can agree on is that blogging is an amazing opportunity to connect with people around the world. Whether it's someone from across the globe emailing me about a blog post I wrote or connecting in real life with people in my blogging industry, one of the most amazing things that's happened as a result of Positively Present is that I've created meaningful connections with so many wonderful, creative, soulful, inspiring people. I will be forever grateful for everyone I've met as a result of this site. 


  7. PP HELPED ME BECOME MORE ME. 

    One of the most thrilling aspects of running a site that is 100% my own is that it's an on-going act of self-love and self-exploration. In sharing my words and work with you, I'm learning more about myself every day. Through Positively Present, I've been given a unique opportunity to help others improve their lives while also greatly improving my own. With every blog post, I learn something new. With every Instagram post, I discover a new kind of creativity. Every lesson learned is a gift I'll be forever thankful for. 


  8. PP CHANGE HOW I SEE THE WORLD. 

    Of course, most importantly, Positively Present has changed how I see every single aspect of my life. While, admittedly, I'm not positive and present every moment of every day, I strive for it constantly and I'm always asking myself, "What would I tell my readers?" This question is simple, but it's had a profound impact on my life. It's helped me enjoy and embrace life's highs, and it's helped me survive life's lows. The work I do impacts my mind (and life!) every single day, and that's certainly not something I expected when I started it eight years ago! 


This site has changed me for the better in so many ways, and I'm thankful for it every single day. More than that, though, I'm thankful for YOU. Thank you for reading, for engaging, for being with me today and in the past. I know how many options there are when it comes to reading online content, and every moment you spend on this site is kind of a miracle. Thank you for being here, for reading this, and for taking the time to make your life a more positive, present place. 

Now, get out there and spread that positivity with those eight great compliments! :) 

 

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