How to do a Network News & Social Media Detox

News & Social Media Detoxing by alisonsmith.com

It’s official. I have hit my limit.

After witnessing the results of the 2016 U.S. election, my stress level has reached a point where I have no choice but to address it. I’ve spent the last week grieving over the failed attempt of Hillary Clinton breaking the biggest glass ceiling yet.

The selfish, feminist in me feels utterly steamrolled.

I spent election night at my Mother’s house. We were going to celebrate Hillary’s win together. We were finally going to celebrate the ultimate suffragette’s dream. I was also so incredibly excited that my 93 year old grandmother would have a chance to witness a woman elected president, and I’m gutted that she didn’t get that chance.

I became way too emotionally invested in this election, too invested for an outsider looking in. I went off the network and social media deep-end, endlessly spiraling between:

  • MSNBC Morning Joe clips on YouTube
  • CNN online
  • 538 News online (recommended as the most reliable source — based on the results, I beg to differ.)
  • Twitter: loving tweets by Danielle Moodie Mills, David Frum, and Michael Moore.
  • YouTube clips of
    • Steven Colbert
    • Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal
    • Bill Maher
    • John Oliver
    • PBS news hour
  • Democracy Now
  • The Young Turks on YouTube
  • SNL clips of their hilarious debate spoofs

I was eyeball deep in too much media, every waking moment. And, like a drug, I was drawn to it…I needed my fix.

 

Checking Out to Internally Check In: Detoxing From the News & Social Media

I know that I’m not the only one who feels pervasive stress swimming around their inner orbit. We are a society of stress, and it’s eating us all alive.

So, I’m going to share with you a strategy that I’ve used before to immediately de-stress and to re-group.

It’s a strategy that I’m about to use again, and it’s one that I used for 3-years straight, when I was in the final stages of recovery from Lyme Disease. At that time, I had to avoid as many forms of stress as possible in order to help speed up my recovery process. (It took 5-years to get a diagnosis, 3-years of medical treatment, and a year to regain my physical strength. I lost 9-years of my life, and I’m pretty much willing to do anything and everything to maintain my health.)

This strategy is not about burying your head in the preverbal sand, but it is definitely a strategy to make a conscious decision to reject streams of information that only wreak havoc on your mind and ability to hold onto some semblance of happiness.


The Check Out Method is a way for you to get back in touch with what’s important in your life: happiness, positivity, connection, family, friends, building success on your own terms, feeling like you’re achieving your goals, helping to make your mind & body stronger, helping others to succeed as well. It does this by allowing you to free up your time and cluttered mind, and to de-stress so that you can think about what the important things are and how to take action to accomplish the goals that you set out for yourself.


The Check Out Method

In essence, the network & social media check out method involves (instructions further down the page):

  • Cutting out all news channels and broadcasts on TV and online.
  • Silencing your Facebook newsfeed.
  • Unfollowing people on Twitter or closing your account.
  • Removing Facebook and Twitter apps from your smartphone.
  • Clicking ‘uninterested’ to YouTube videos related to news-related content.
  • Just say ‘No’ to print and online media.

Don’t go! Stay with me…hear me out!

Why Even Try? The Benefits of Silencing Media

You probably read the method list and thought, ‘holy shit’…I can’t do that; I can’t check out like that. But believe me. You can, and your life will be so much better for it. It doesn’t mean that you’ll become ignorant. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care anymore.

It just means that you’re willing to take care of yourself so that you can gather enough energy to help someone else.

The check out method will free-up space in your life that, at this moment, is cluttered with noisy, negativity, lies, fear, and hate. There are way more negative things said via these channels than positive.

Being an intelligently informed person does not mean that you have to participate in mainstream news or social media.

All of this noise is stopping us from feeling good and accomplishing the things that we are meant to do.

Here’s why:

  1. Participating in social media like Facebook can contribute to depression. And, besides, who cares what your friend had for breakfast or what anyone in your network is thinking at any given moment. There is too much verbal diarrhea out there, and if you’re fed-up with it, keep reading.
  2. Watching just 15 minutes of the news increases anxiety and stress.
  3. Texting, posting, tweeting, instagram-ing, lets you present a sanitized, edited view of yourself, and it can be rather inauthentic and stop conversation and personal connection.
  4. Unplugging and learning how to be comfortably alone allows you to cultivate your own strength and voice to help others.
  5. Posting on social media or watching the same news reports on a loop all night is a vast time waster and diverts you away from doing something joyful or productive.

Grab a FREE copy of the Check Out Method Instructions to place on your refrigerator as a reminder.


The Nuts & Bolts of the Check Out Method

Try the method for at least 1-week straight. If you start to notice that your stress level has decreased, keep it up! Continue for as long as you want.

  1. Avoid news channels and reports — If you have a programmable TV, hide the network news channels so that you don’t fall on them when you’re channel surfing. Find something else to do when the news comes on.
  2. Get rid of your Facebook newsfeed — you don’t need to see what everyone is up to or saying all the time. If you use Google Chrome, install the Facebook Eradicator extension. Instead of seeing your Facebook newsfeed, you’ll see one inspirational quote, instead. This allows you to keep your FB account, but silence all of the newsfeed noise.
  3. Silence Twitter  — There isn’t a twitter eradicator so you’ll have to either unfollow everyone or deactivate your account.
  4. Remove the Facebook, Twitter, etc. apps from your phone. Force yourself to use these platforms (if you use them at all) through a regular computer. This will instantly cut off your addictive urge to waste your time on social media. (I kept my instagram app on my phone, since it’s a phone only app, but I unfollowed most people. Only positive imagry allowed.)
  5. Clean up your YouTube recommendations — hover over the bottom right of any youtube thumbnail image in your recommendations section, click the 3 vertical dots, and choose ‘uninterested’. This will stop the temptation to watch news-related content, if you’re a heavy watcher.

What You Can Do Instead

You don’t have to become oblivious to what you believe in to successfully experience this method. Instead, you can just redirect all of that passive watching and listening energy to actually doing something about the issues you feel strongest about.

Instead of watching network news or commiserating with people through social media, take action!

  • Join a group that is working toward solving the issue or participating in enacting change.
  • Donate to organizations that are working to enact change.
  • Journal about what you want your life to look like, and make some small goals to work toward those desires.
  • Start an inspirational book club: read books on topics that inspire positive change in your life and share the benefits with others in the group. (This can be online FYI via Skype, Zoom, or G+ Hangouts.)
  • Do something creative.
  • Take a course on any subject.
  • Be active. Get your body moving.
  • Stop and rest your mind for 15 minutes, in silence. Just be.

Let Me Know What You Experience

Let me know in the comments section what your experience is like stepping away from media sources. Any changes in your stress level?

It’s hard to let go of incessant news watching and social media. I’m on day 7 of my second Check-Out cycle (my first lasted 3-years), and I feel pulled to YouTube and Twitter.

I have watched a handful of YouTube clips from MSNBC during this week because they showed up in my Recommendations section and the urge was too strong to resist.

So, be gentle with yourself! Weaning off the habit of media is hard; it’s a daily practice. But as time progresses, the urge lessens. My stress level has already dropped, and I’m thankful for that.



What I’m Doing Instead

Instead of watching the news or hopping on social media, here’s what I’m up to at the moment:

  • I’m looking into attending the One Million Women March, January 21st in Washington D.C. I missed being a suffragette or a women’s liberation fighter of the 70’s, so if this march happens, I would love to be there as a Canadian supporting my American sisters.
  • Moving and sweating Monday to Friday — I’m hooked on Tracy Anderson workout videos. I crank the music and get my groove on every day at 4:30pm.
  • Signing up for 4-weeks of ballet barre workout classes. This will start mid-December.
  • Stringing lovely lights in the trees of my backyard so at night I get to see beautiful scenery.
  • Talking to my friends on the phone. Actually having conversations.
  • Going for historical house tours. I love history and architecture. This past weekend, I went to DunDurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario. Funny: we went there the day after the election, to help us feel better. We were on a tour with another couple from Buffalo who were doing the exact same thing! Finding comfort in beautiful history : )
  • Reading up a storm. I get a book out of my local library every week.
  • Going for walks in the sun. It’s mid-November, and we still haven’t seen snow, yet. I’m loving it!
  • Exploring new wooded walking trails in the city. It seems that hardly anyone uses the trails here in Toronto.
  • Focusing on ways to bring happiness into my day, and keeping my thoughts leaning toward the positive spectrum (not an easy practice, but worth while).

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