4 years ago, I had to step away. From Facebook. It was election year and not only did it seem like people had lost their minds and hearts and manners, they were beginning to pull me into the fray too. Maybe not outwardly… I wasn’t on Facebook arguing in the comment sections, but I was there in my heart. My spirit was sapped, my emotions were all over the place, and my peace was gone. As I was praying, I felt very strongly that I was to leave social media until after the election. So for 5 weeks, I did just that. It was the best kind of freedom.
When I came back again just after the election, I thought things were better. I was wrong… people were more bold, even less empathetic, and were generally not acting like themselves. I eventually decided to leave Facebook permanently. Best decision I ever made. I felt like Instagram was the safer place. Not only because I could curate my feed into a fun little space with interior design, beauty, food and a handful of friends, but I didn’t have to see every time someone I loved “liked’ an offensive post or commented in a hurtful manner. It felt like peace.
But there’s so much more to it than social media. I realize that right now, stakes are high and emotional intelligence and connection is low. Why would it be any different? A pandemic, a racially and socially divided country, an economy that is anything but hopeful, an either/or mentality, a cancel culture, and an election year to boot.
Everywhere I look, there seems to be a negative blanket on it all. And it’s like we can’t get away from it. Or can we?
I have been taking note of the times I feel the most at peace, and the times I am feeling high anxiety, and I have documented the pattern. Today, if you are here for it, I want to give you advice. Or, if you are doing great and really unbothered, then I commend the way you are able to compartmentalize and keep the negative stuff from permeating your heart! Everyone is different though, and there are some of us (especially we who have empathy as one of our top strengths) who just cannot bear the weight of it all without crumbling.
So here are 10 things I am doing to preserve my peace during this crazy time… and it is working!
For those who know me, you know I do nothing apart from Jesus. If you are not a follower of Jesus, then this portion may not apply, but feel free to keep reading! Awhile back I posted about my anxiety and how I heard God telling me to meet Him in the morning. See, I had already been praying, reading my Bible and gratitude journaling. I could not understand what He meant, since I thought I was already doing that- “meeting” Him. However, the next morning, I opened my eyes and simply talked to God. “Good morning, God.” I greeted Him. I asked Him to fill me with The Holy Spirit. I spent a bit of time, first thing, simply singing to Him and thanking Him. I asked Him to speak to me throughout the day. With that, God filled me up and there was no room for other things to sit inside of my spirit that didn’t belong there. And when my eyes or ears witnessed things that were harmful, I was able to process them through His lens, and not my own. From there, I could hear God throughout the rest of the day, and instead of letting things sit and stay in my heart, I removed the things that didn’t belong there. I now had room for the important things: more compassion. More empathy. More love. More peace. So, yes. Meet God in the morning. Not out of obligation or legalism; not trying to get something from Him… but simply because He is there waiting and He wants to spend time with you, too. And in those moments He will fill you up for the day. You’ll be able to see what comes at you through His perspective, and not your own.
This is extremely unpopular. But you want your peace, don’t you? If you decide to do this, it will be hard. But once you make this decision, stick to it. Because, what is more important? Seeing a picture of your friend’s baby or cousin’s puppy or sister’s date night? Or is it your peace? I have taken so many breaks from fb. I took that one during the last election year, I took a few 21 day breaks, a couple of 30 day breaks and I even took an entire year off of all social media AND the news. And it was freaking delightful. Yes. I missed birthdays, weddings, babies, and even deaths. I didn’t know about that tragic news story. I missed the funny memes. I never heard about that party. I missed the latest show. And just as I began to shame myself for missing all of those beautiful and sad and monumental and painful and fun and mournful moments, I heard God say, “Anna. I saw it. I was there. I handled it. And I didn’t need YOU to see it on Facebook for ME to do it.”
I saw it. I was there. I handled it. And I didn’t need YOU to see it on Facebook for ME to do it.
Whew. OK. You mean the world didn’t need me to know about everything in order for it to keep spinning? Precisely. And guess what I got in exchange? The people who are most important in my life still showed up. I still showed up for them. I got my texts and phone calls and FaceTimes. I still got to see my friends and family. And the bad news and good news that I needed to know? REALLY needed to know? It came to me. Guys, our bodies are not capable of handling all of the knowledge and weight of the world, and we can’t be so prideful that we believe we need to know it all. Why do you think our anxiety is of epic proportions? We have believed the lie that we must “keep in touch” on Facebook. I am saying to you, my friend. This will change your perspective and bring you peace!
OK. I am not telling you to not be informed during a pandemic and election year. However, I highly encourage you to edit the process in which you get your news. My suggestion is this: Don’t get your news from social media. Don’t get it from FOX, CNN, MSNBC, or any of those easy to access sources. Why? Because the standard news sources, while bringing essential and important information, also bring sensationalism, emotion, and opinion right along with the things that we need to know. And guess what? We are adults and we are fully capable of forming our OWN opinions. We don’t need our news sources to do that for us, right? I believe we have enough emotion to go around without the news adding anything to it. So what do I do instead? Rather than watching news on TV or scrolling though clickbait, which at any moment can take me from zero to one hundred…. from smiling to sobbing…from relaxation to anger…. I decided to get my news another way. While I realize that there is no news source that is truly 100% unbiased, I CAN get my news without emotion and sensationalism. So here is my suggestion: Get your news directly from The Associated Press, Reuters, or Wall Street Journal. All of these news sources report the news while avoiding generalizations or labels. I downloaded the AP app, and schedule a time (not first thing in the morning, and not even daily!) that I scan the news. And guys, I am telling you – it is amazing how much peace I have doing this rather than being spoon fed opinions and emotions by other sources.
Again, I want us all to be informed on the latest with Covid-19 and we really need to be! It seems like every few days there is something new. So instead of getting sucked into the news, about once a week, I go to the CDC website for their latest recommendations. I realize that these are only recommendations, but many of our government agencies align local guidelines with what the CDC suggests, so I want to know what they are saying, straight from the horse’s mouth. When I need to know what is going on in my state, I simply check the governor’s website once a week or so. Most states have a daily update right there. And when I want to know hard numbers, I go to a website called worldometer. This is a website that counts in real time the number of people on the planet, amongst other things. One of the recent focuses is of course, Covid-19. I like this website because it gives the links to the origin of its data and you can see the cited sources. Again, no sensationalism or emotional reporting. Just the numbers.
And I am not just talking about the ones you disagree with. I am talking about any account that upsets your heart. I do realize that being unable to look at certain accounts without getting triggered, angry, sad, jealous, outraged or depressed says more about you and me than it does the source, but it is just plain wisdom if you know yourself well enough to know that certain things sap your wholeness when you are exposed to them. Yes- we need to work on ourselves endlessly to be better people and to withstand seeing things that tug on our emotions. I am not saying to put your head in the sand! However, in the meantime, it is good to protect and guard your heart. I believe that if following certain accounts brings you joy, encouragement, excitement, laughter, entertainment, education or inspiration, even if periodically you see something you don’t like or agree with, that is fine. It becomes dangerous to your soul, though, if an account constantly releases images, quotes, video, headlines, captions and articles that completely destroy your peace. Even if you agree with the content being shared, it isn’t worth it. Unfollow.
If these tips don’t lessen your anxiety and bring you immense peace (they certainly did for me!), there is still more that you can do. Get some counseling. This is a time of great turmoil, and as a result, it may have become more stressful than what you can handle on your own. There are many ways to get counseling. Recently I discovered a subscription service that offers you a live Christian counselor. It is called Faithful Counseling. I believe that talking to a professional is extremely helpful, whether you’re trying to manage anxiety, or need help for your family or marriage. With this service, you can connect with a licensed professional therapist by phone, email or messaging, and I love how they allow you to decide how little or much you want to incorporate spiritual practices into the therapy process and invite God into the conversation. For $60-$80 per week, you get unlimited sessions with your counselor, and you decide what that number is, depending on your needs and availability. You also might decide that you are feeling great after a couple of sessions, and can cancel at any time. I love that the pricing is comparable to most copays. Here is the link if you are curious about Faithful Counseling services.
This may sound trivial, but they really do help! If you go to Dr. Axe’s page he has an entire article on stress relieving essential oils. I personally have found Lavender and an oil called Stress Away by Young Living really helpful, as well as Frankincense. You can diffuse them or place some directly on your skin. I am always fascinated by the way they help me to feel peaceful and relaxed so quickly.
As you all know, I think sleep is essential. I love my Organifi Gold Tea (my code is ANNAMAE) for helping me fall asleep fast, and of course, I am always talking about magnesium. Another thing to do is drink a small cup of tart cherry juice which helps with sleep and pain relief. I have a post about about anti aging that includes some tips for getting your beauty sleep, and that definitely applies here. Sleep helps you to recharge, and it is one of the best things you can do for stress. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed so you can write things down if you start to worry. You no longer have to try to sleep with it on your mind- it is now on the notepad and you can put it on your to do list or prayer list in the morning! Another tip is to turn on your Bible App and have it read scripture aloud to you as you fall asleep. Do everything you can to get yourself 8 hours of sleep so you can wake up in peace.
If there is one thing that counselors will tell you, it’s that the fastest way to joy and peace is to help someone else. I suggest finding a shelter, a community garden, a church or a food bank to get you started. Thinking about others and taking action when it comes to their needs really helps. The Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive, and it really isn’t just some pithy statement. It is the truth! We are built to be others-focused, and when we do that, we feel so fulfilled. It is a huge part of our peace.
After all, since you will have hopefully removed Facebook from your life for awhile, and maybe are no longer being fed the news on a screen, you might just have time to get out and breathe a little. Some vitamin D and air in our lungs never hurt. Grab a friend or go alone… in fact, some of the most special times I have ever experienced with God happened while I was running outdoors. Give it a try!
I know that this is not an exhaustive list, but I really hope this was helpful to those who need it. I am not here to boss anyone around or tell everyone they need to do what I do, but I know that I am not alone in wanting to walk in peace on a daily basis, and this is what has helped me. I am glad you stopped by, and I hope you are able to implement some of the things that I have suggested! Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post!
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