I have a confession to make. I’ve stopped listening to the news. It’s not really out of character for me, as I’ve also stopped watching T.V. too. I do watch some shows once and a while. And I read headlines of news stories on my phone. But I’ve just gotten out of the habit of doing both. I don’t miss it, but this kind of worries me a little. Just because I don’t stay abreast of current events doesn’t mean that they go away and I feel less connected for it. And it also feels good to stay informed. Not just for my sake, but for others as well.
I want to stay on top of what’s happening in the world. But the other aspect, and one that is more pressing is, I just don’t have the time. I work two jobs to pay down my student loans and the times I’m not working I’m either cooking for the next two weeks, doing laundry, cooking dinner with family, trying to cram all the tasks I didn’t do during the week into my day off, working out or blogging. It’s amazing how quickly time fills up when you’re busy living your life.
I have another confession to make. On the days I don’t have to wake up at 5:30am to start work, I sleep till around 12 noon and sometimes as late as 2pm. It’s a problem. I think the worst part of me waking up so late is, I don’t really feel that bad about it.
In fact, it wasn’t until I rolled into work 15 minutes late again, and my boss said something about me needing to be on time that I finally felt that something needed to change. You may be asking, how does me being lazy relate to listening to more news? Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you how I changed both habits at the same time by waking up a little earlier.
Feeling Tired and Overwhelmed? Sleep Less
I was constantly feeling tired during the day, and not looking forward to certain tasks. I’m sure this sounds familiar to some. My alarm would go off at 5:30am and I would hit the snooze button thinking, “if I can just get 10 more minutes of sleep, then I’ll be satisfied.” But 10 minutes turned into 20 minutes, turned into 30 minutes. I just kept hitting snooze until finally I was showing up 15 minutes late for work almost everyday.
This was a blow to my ego, as I pride myself on my work ethic. I’m usually 15 minutes early to appointments and responsibilities. The times I used to be late for anything were few and far between. So when my boss told me we needed to talk, I knew I had to make some changes.
That Extra Half an Hour Matters
So, I hopped on the internet and started looking up ways to make it easier to feel awake in the morning. The problem I feel I’m having with waking early is, I just needed more sleep. I somehow thought, when I was under the impression that I could wake up at a reasonable hour, that my body would tell me when I’ve had enough sleep and that I would wake up feeling refreshed when I met my quota. But the more I slept, the later I would want to sleep.
Some of the research I read suggested that I immediately turn on a bright light upon waking up. This sends a signal to our optic nerve that it’s time to start moving and triggers some biological functions in our bodies that help us to feel awake.
Chang Up Your Routine
I also decided that I wanted to eat a healthier breakfast, without feeling rushed as I usually do. So I came up with a plan to wake a little earlier and start my morning routine off on the right foot. Instead of waking up at 5:30am, snoozing for 20 minutes and rushing to get out of the house, dressed and all my things gathered in 10 minutes, only to arrive at work at 6:15am, I set my alarm for 5am. This way I can wake up with ample time to get ready for the day.
Instead of hitting snooze, I get up right away and turn on the light to help my system get acclimated to being awake. I then head downstairs and make my morning cup of green tea and a green smoothie to get something healthy in me, to start my day nourished. I can then take my time getting ready for the day while I drink my tea and smoothie. Without feeling rushed to get out the door and inevitably bad about being late to work. Win win.
That’s Great on Days I Work, But Can I Still Sleep in on the Weekends? Not if You Want to Stay Up on the News
Short answer, no. Some of the research I was reading suggests that you keep your schedule consistent throughout the week. Waking up at the same time everyday helps to get your body in a rhythm that will become self sustaining. So instead of waking up and wanting to hit snooze, you’ll wake up and feel more refreshed the more often you stay faithful to your schedule. And maybe you’ll find the time to listen to the news again.
The first day I had off in which I woke early was incredible. The day prior I had slept till 2pm and felt rushed and mildly guilty about losing so much of the day. I had forgotten about some plans I made with my father to check out the local hardware store. To look for lumber to build some raised beds. So the guilt of missing out on plans, added to the shame of me feeling as though I wasted an entire day and worked to leave me feeling pretty bad. It was not a good state to be in.
Wake Up Early Get More Done
So that night I set an alarm for 7:30am, hoping to get a jump on the next day. Things couldn’t have worked out better. I woke at 7:30am, ate breakfast and drank tea, and got started in on my to-do list. Also, I got more done between when I woke that day to the time I woke the day before than I had in the past three to four weeks. And I was also feeling more connected too.
For starters, I was crossing things off of my to-do list with excited fervor. I went to the local YMCA to look into a membership, I switched my current credit card to a greener, more sustainable one. I balanced my budget, put my shopping list together and chose recipes for the next two weeks. Blogged for a bit and yes, even listened to the news while I was getting things done. It felt good and I was feeling connected. To the world but also to my life.
Okay, I’m Listening To The News Now, But It’s Depressing. Now What?
But as soon as I started listening to the news again, I remembered why I stopped listening in the first place. There are so many negative stories happening, that it’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed or fatigued by just being informed. Staying connected was proving to be difficult work.
When I was in my twenties, I hopped on the Tom Ashbrook bandwagon and listened to “On Point” regularly. I was also watching CNN, listening to NPR and taking in as much information as possible. I took it to the extreme and my habits were definitely bordering unhealthy. This was also around the time I was mean spirited and forcefully vocal with my opinions. Not a good combo.
What I’m realizing now is, that I was mean and opinionated to cover over the fear and uncertainty I was feeling while I was taking in all of this depressing news. I didn’t like this apect of staying connected, but I chased after it to try and fit in with the image of who I thought I should be. So how am I now reconciling my distaste for the negative bias of the news and wanting to stay connected and informed? Balance.
You Take The Good You Take The Bad…
I first had to find out what my reasons were for wanting to stay informed and connected were before I could subject myself to the negativity that was omnipresent in the world of news. I ‘ve come to the conclusion that staying connected is more than just fitting the image of the responsible man I had in mind. It’s mostly about being support, for myself and others. Healthier ways of staying connected.
Just because I wasn’t listening to the news, didn’t mean those events affecting those who are closest to me weren’t happening. I’ve come to realize that when I’m actively listening to the news, I can shape my opinions about what’s happening in the world and share them with those close in. We can offer solace to one another when terrible things are happening, as they are with the pandemic and in Ukraine currently. We can plan together when we hear about gas prices increasing, or the current supply chain shortages. In short, we can help one another, be there for each other, stay connected and all thanks to just by being informed.
With So Much Worry, What About The Positive?
But there needs to be some balance to the equation. I’ve recently downloaded an app called “The Good News Network”. The app sends push notifications with positive or uplifting headlines. This way I can get a balance. The more sobering news from the mainstream media, paired with the uplifting ones from “The Good News Network”. It’s been a good shift. Also really cute at times : )
I haven’t started yet, but my plan is to get my news in the mornings via NPR or a podcast with similar values to stay current, while reading something from “The Good News Network” in the evenings to end my day on a positive note. This way I’ll balance the stressful impact of the more difficult headlines with those of the more uplifting ones.
Don’t Forget the Self-Care
And there’s also an element of self-care that goes along with listening to the news. No longer will I pump large quantities of negativity into my life without checking in and giving myself the breaks I need from what’s bothering me. I think I used to operate under the assumption that, “real men” could handle anything. Including listening to an endless stream of horrifying headlines.
Gone are the days where I wallow in the angst and unrest of the world’s pain. Now, if something feels overwhelming, I’ll take a break from the news and do some resourcing to help me through the difficult emotions.
Some of the podcasts I’ll be looking into are, NHK’s World News Japan, English News, and Morning Edition from NPR. The NHK network has a different cultural perspective than its American counter parts, while NPR speaks to my more liberal-centrist views. Both networks are well respected and deliver quality news stories.
Take Breaks When Needed
But wherever you get your news from, don’t forget that while you’re in the throws of staying up-to-date on current affairs, it’s okay to press pause if it feels like it’s too much. Listen to some music or just get lost in a crossword puzzle. But equally as important, find a news source that suits your taste. There’s no sense in trying to listen if it’s a chore tuning in.
I hope this has been helpful in some way to those needing a little extra boost to get your day started on the right foot and feel more connected. It isn’t always easy to make changes at first. Especially those that demand a bit of sacrifice. But I think you’ll find that the more you practice these new habits, the easier they’ll become. So if you’ve found yourself in some unhealthy habits when it comes to feeling more connected to the world around you, try these suggestions. You may just end up becoming a morning person : ) Peace : ) & thanks for reading.
Image Credits: “The news ticker in Times Square mentions the Occupy Wall Street protest happening on October 15th as protesters gather outside” by TenSafeFrogs is marked with CC BY 2.0.