The Art of Emotional Regulation in the Age of Information OverloadOct 09, 2023
To watch or not to watch… honestly, it’s a crap shoot.
I have so many friends who have totally sworn off “the news.”
It’s all just so MUCH… and seemingly on permanent repeat.
Add to that - information is available at the tap of a screen, which can lead to information overload, resulting in anxiety and emotional distress.
But I want to stay informed, up to date, and knowledgeable about what’s happening in the world, and in my community - how do you do both?
It’s important to find balance between being informed and maintaining emotional health.
I’ve learned - through some hard work - how to protect my heart and mind, while still staying informed, most importantly, about topics that I’ve discovered are hot-button issues for me.
So I’m sharing how I stay informed without sacrificing my emotional health. When I recognize a topic is a “hot button” for me, I have to pay attention to how my body feels in the situation, decide how I’m going to respond, all while looking for ways to be respectful of others as I do so.
Let me break it down for you…
First: Recognize when something hits you hard.
This goes back to awareness.Remember, we can only work on what we know, when we know it.
So rather than just allowing yourself to become overwhelmed, upset, or angry, take a beat and do a quick scan. If you can’t do this in the moment, it’s a great opportunity for reflection.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What was the trigger? Topic, media type, media outlet, conversation…
- What does my body feel? Heart racing, throat closing, tears, tense muscles…
- What emotions can I identify? Anger, fear, disbelief, desperation…
Second: Take care of yourself.
This is your permission slip to step away from the situation, and find a safe space.
It helps me to think of my emotions as wind blowing through a screen door. If I try to stop that wind from blowing, the door will be damaged, so I need to find a way to let them blow through, knowing it’s a temporary thing.
Here are ways you can care for you:
- Leave the area. Just walk away from a conversation or media source…
- Close your eyes and do some breathing exercises. Use your smart watch, 5,4,3,2,1 exercise…
- Sit down and stop talking. Especially if you can’t leave, just give yourself space to process…
Third: Decide how you want to move forward.
In a society that is increasingly polarized, maintaining respectful discourse can be a challenge. However, by understanding your processing style and emotional state, you can still engage in productive conversations without feeling emotionally drained.
- Was it the topic? You can plan for how you want to engage with that topic in the future. Recognize how your body feels, and look for ways to be respectful of others when you speak to it.
- Was it the content? You now know what types of content to avoid or better understand.
- What can I control, and what can’t I? Being kind to yourself and others includes recognizing that when things are out of your control, you just need to know what to do when they happen. Then control what you can.
- What Core Value is being challenged here? Most of your strongest emotional reactions are going to be in response to the “violation” of a Core Value.
- What Assumption, Belief or Conditioning is being exposed? I find that these situations are more likely to be revealing some Conditioning that we don’t realize is there.
Answering all these questions might look like a big exercise, but once you start doing it, you’ll begin to see the answers pop up faster than you think. The more often you reflect this way, the more likely you are to see things BEFORE they become overwhelming to you.
Fourth: Determine what kind of processor you are.
We each process information in one of two ways (broadly speaking):
- Mental: you process information in a logical, thoughtful way.
- Usually “thinkers” who want to understand the why or the root cause of a problem.
- Information is approached logically, and in a more linear fashion.
- You likely use language like “that makes sense,” or “help me understand.”
- Feeling: you process information based on how it resonates with your emotions.
- Usually “feelers” who need to check their gut, and will “just know” when something is right or not.
- Information is approached more subjectively, taking into account all the different circumstantial factors.
- You likely use language like “I’m not feeling it,” or “this just feels right.”
Recognizing which one you are, will give you a real head start in managing your emotions in the face of tragic, overwhelming or all-consuming news.
I’m a Mental processor - so when something hits me in the gut, I know I have to really pay attention. I have to take all the steps outlined above, and have learned to completely walk away from certain situations until I can get my head wrapped around my emotions.
If you’re a Feeling processor - you can use these same exercises to help you figure out how you want to respond, and be more thoughtful when doing so.
The goal is to find a way to be kind and respectful as we still state who we are, stand up for our Core Values and the things we think are important, in a way that honors others.
Navigating the news without emotional overwhelm is possible. You can take control of your own media consumption while managing your own emotional responses.
So, my friend, what do YOU need to walk away from?
What are your hot button topics?
Where do you find yourself overwhelmed, and in need of regulation?
Take a moment and stop, become aware, take a breath, then reflect and decide.
Did this resonate with you? Comment below or email me at [email protected], and tell me how.
Do you know a friend who seems to always be overwhelmed? SHARE the information!
We’re all in this together. In order to have the confidence to Stand Tall, we need to understand where we’re coming from and what we have to offer. Keeping yourself emotionally healthy is a great place to start.
Standing by you…
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