By Alex Frandsen, editorial columnist
These first few weeks of life under President Donald J. Trump have been exhausting. And I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. If you’re one of those people who keeps up with the news and/or exists on social media, the part of your brain dedicated to following current events is probably feeling tangibly fatigued.
The deluge of headlines and leaks has been unrelenting, from Trump’s day one promise to repeal Obamacare to the shocking reveal of his ban on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. It’s a lot to take in, and almost all of it feels like a major shake-up in the status quo. The world is changing around you, and it can feel impossible to avoid the coverage of it.
On the surface, this isn’t the worst thing in the world. Being educated and on top of what’s happening in our government is a crucial habit, and one that directly makes our democracy stronger. Still, there is such a thing as too much news. For one, it can be downright depressing. If you are a member of a minority group in this country, these first weeks might even feel like a personal assault. If you care about the environment, freedom of speech and equal rights for all, it can feel like society is crumbling. Being blitzed by constant news alerts like the ones we’ve seen so far leaves little room for cheer and optimism.
So how can you keep your head above water when The Washington Post and others are constantly dumping buckets of information on your head? The truth is, you can’t really hide completely. Burying your head in the sand is tempting, but nothing will get better if everyone took that route. Instead, you should opt for a healthier “media diet” of sorts.
The New York Times ran an article outlining the idea a couple weeks ago. One of its suggestions: An increase in the amount of positive news you take in. It might feel a little superficial, given the gravity of some of Trump’s actions, but there are still good things going on in this world. Not only will reading about them cheer you up, it’ll also remind you that there’s more to life than the angry orange man waving his fists around.
Altering the way you consume your news is another way to ease the burden on your poor brain. We are firmly in the Twitter age, and odds are that you get the vast majority of your news from social media platforms. The immediacy of the medium might feel like a plus, but taking in your news this way also incentivizes you to constantly hop on and see what’s new. Opening the Twitter app to a barrage of headlines is overwhelming and hard to digest.
Daily newsletters are a bit of a more palatable option, with nearly every major media outlet offering them. Instead of whipping your phone out every two seconds, relax and wait for The Boston Globe to compile the most critical news stories and deliver them right to your inbox. It’s an easy way of keeping in touch with the world while keeping your heart rate at a safe level.
These are historic times with historic headlines. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself in them. Your mental well-being is just as important as the most recent ridiculous thing Trump said. Keep in the loop, but don’t live in it.
Photo by Rowan Walrath