Tuning Out the World: An HSP’s Case for Guilty Pleasures
Mass shootings and famine, the homeless and war. Natural disasters you cannot ignore. Sexual assault and global warming… These are a few of my least favorite things.
Such topics can easily be crammed into a ten-minute news segment, let alone a 24-hour streaming news channel.
Growing up, the news channel was always on our TV. Maybe my parents didn’t realize we had other channels. Or maybe my parents wanted to raise well-informed and knowledgeable children.
The flip side of this was the constant flood of overstimulation. The news was on before school; it was on after dinner; it was never not on.
I appreciate my parents’ thirst for knowledge and current world happenings. As an adult, current events have become a large part of our everyday dialogue and family dinners. We’re always sharing articles and starting conversations with, “Did you hear about…?”
But the steady income of disturbing images and footage deeply rattles me. Feeling sick to my stomach, I have to excuse myself from the room.
A few years ago I was seeing an amazing therapist.
She asked me, “What are you so worried about?”
“Everything,” I replied.
She told me to turn off the news. It was really a metaphor for suspending the overstimulation before I shut down indefinitely.
I left the appointment to go pick up something at my parents’ house and what was on the TV as I walked in? You guessed it. I cracked a smile and left.
I try to stay heavily involved in any given volunteer or charitable opportunities. I can’t help the situations I see on TV, so it’s the least I can do.
But I always want to do more. Sometimes the desire to help is so forceful it affects me viscerally.
I have to give myself a break. I do what I can, when I can, and that should be enough.
Allowing myself to indulge in innocuous guilty pleasures from time to time helps silence the world around me.
A good, solid Netflix binge is warranted here. Reality TV marathons, going to concerts, listening to my favorite podcast and even visiting Disneyland works. I’ve learned to stop feeling guilty about it.
I’ll shut down my social media occasionally and read outside articles. It allows me to decipher what I think and how I feel about certain topics without the perpetual feed of other people’s opinions. I call it turning down the noise.
Creating my own little fantasy microcosm is a necessity for sanity. I’m so in tune with the world, I grant myself the opportunity to check out once in a while.
My advice to you is to give yourself permission to do the same. Even for a few hours, change the channel, deactivate your social media and tune into yourself. Because sometimes, no news is good news.
How about you – does the news overstimulate you? What are your go-to guilty pleasures?
Pic credit via JillWellington
YES, the news drains me. I tend to listen to NPR in the car, and at home, too. But even though I only have a 7-minute commute to work, I find that even that is too much sometimes. I’m alerted to the latest news happening by a pop-up on my work PC, and even that is too much at times. I have to remind myself NOT to click on the “news” button on my phone, even for just a “quick look.” It’s never quick, and it’s never just a “look.”
I have also had to take long, long breaks from Facebook and other social media. I pop in sometimes, I answer messages on Messenger, but I find the more I stay away, the better I feel.
My guilty pleasures are reading books (although I don’t really feel that guilty about it), watching old movies, and writing. The older I get, the more I need the respite…I’m finding it easier to get overstimulated, and harder to shake the exhaustion and anxiety when I try to muscle through too much and retreat too late. I’m trying to build in more time off work, more time to myself…but it’s hard.
“Retreat too late” is a great way of putting it, Tina! I, too, find myself getting more easily overstimulated as I age. My nervous system and senses seem more delicate and on high alert these days. Or maybe I’m just more in tune with them as I get older and wiser? I have a bad habit of reading the news alerts that pop up on my phone too. I find it easier to digest without the graphic images. I’m so glad I’m not alone on this!