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You can disconnect when you need

1. Diversify what you consume.

Algorithms can be great – showing you exactly what you want to see, at least once in a while – and also terrible – showing you what you usually want to see, but are now totally exhausted. Perhaps no situation highlights this more than tragedy, in which you are presented with seemingly endless photos, videos, or opinions of a disaster that you cannot look away from even if you wanted to.

In addition to “muting” words and phrases, I think it can also be helpful to seek out the healthiest, softest material possible – cute animals, laughing babies, and people baking bread in cozy kitchens come to mind. You don’t have to feel guilty if you stray from the news cycle. In fact, you are not helping anyone by harming yourself until the information is exhausted.

2. Log out completely.

Step away from your computer screen! Seriously. Read, take a walk, look for birds outside your window. Call a friend. Do some stretches. Find an activity or event (COVID-19 safe) in your area and check it out. If you’re feeling too internet-bound and your phone is making a siren call to refresh your feed, put it on airplane mode. Have someone else keep track of something like the time and turn your phone completely off, even. Let your brain rest.

3. Keep your mind and body busy.

Get out word searches and crossword puzzles. Try Wordle and all its variants. Find prompts for short stories or poetry, and write, whether on a computer or with pen and paper. If you have the sun, go outside and breathe the fresh air.

4. Do something good, even if it’s small.

If you’re stuck in a doomscrolling cycle, it can be easy to become obsessed with the idea that you need to do something to help the people who need it most at any given time. And if you feel you can’t help, whether for lack of funds, time or resources, you may end up feeling lost and deflated, especially if the news keeps coming in. I urge you to steer clear of any trends and think big in this situation.

Do you have clothes you can donate to a local shelter? Can you commit to walking dogs at an animal shelter several times a month? When was the last time you reached out to friends and told them how much their presence means in your life? No, these things are not helping people in Ukraine right now, but they are still valuable things to do.

5. Plan your consumption.

Planning your news intake is a good companion to limiting it in general, but a slightly different approach. You might find it helpful, for example, not to check social media or your favorite news sites until you’ve had breakfast and settled into your day. It may be helpful not to check for updates in the hour before bedtime.

While sometimes news comes quickly, there are also plenty of people repeating the same points or slightly different versions of the same analysis – we can’t rush what hasn’t happened yet, after all. If the news is causing you distress, it’s okay to set boundaries when engaging with it.

And if you have access to professional mental health support, don’t hesitate to seek it out. There is also always the free 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. It is available in English and Spanish.

Sign the petition: Solidarity with Ukraine. Sanction the Russian government, banks, corporations and oligarchs for Putin’s premeditated war.


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