I am typically very particular about how I spend my weeks. As an extrovert who tires easily, I tend to make a few plans but also leave strategic days in between so that I have time to recoup after work and ward off the general anxiety that comes along with being too busy. To me, there is nothing super appealing about being overly busy, for I appreciate my time spent on the couch watching Charmed or reading through this cool new vampire encyclopedia I just got.
This past week, I had a lot of opportunities to catch up with friends and family, and so I did what many do regularly - I overbooked myself. It is finally Friday afternoon, but I am facing yet another night of plans, and commitments through both of my days off. I am thankful for all of the time I have spent with people I love recently (although I am dragging and a little grumpy from not having any downtime) and also realized something over the past few days.
Since last weekend, I have hardly looked at the news. I have spent little time on social media. And when I have been asked "Did you hear about this/that/them?" I responded "No, actually."
I do believe it is a privilege to look away from the news. I know that I am privileged in many ways, and want to be as informed as I can on local, national, and global issues. But I have felt a resurgence of energy this week that I have not experienced in a long time. I sat on my friend's couch and talked to her for hours without looking at my phone or realizing what time it was. I laid with my dog on the floor. I saw a play and visited a local chocolate shop.
There are so many times when I have struggled to get out of bed or fall asleep because I have been filled with dread from news stories, and I know many of you have felt it too. Although I think it is my social responsibility to be as educated on the state of the world as possible, simply not having the time to sit on my laptop or stare at my phone and read horrific stories and articles on a loop has been healing.
And some of us cannot escape - I know this. Some live it every day, and we are in a time when it is so easy to be connected with the entire world. A tragedy happens hundreds of miles away, we hear about it, and feel it instantly. And then another. And another. Until it's sometimes too much.
I wish I could remember where I originally read this quote/idea, so please know that this thought is not my own, but we are only human and cannot take so much suffering on such a global scale. No matter how compassionate you are, there becomes a point where it is too much. And I think it's okay at that point to walk away for a short while. To take care of yourself and those you love, and then come back when you are ready.
Resting and self care will allow us to continue fighting. I have felt guilty in the past while trying to consciously take breaks from reading the news, but this week, when I accidentally avoided the internet for a majority of my days - it finally dawned on me that I was allowed to distance myself it is means I will come back stronger.
Have a face-to-face conversation with an old friend or watch that movie you have been interested in but haven't made time to see. Take a walk and listen to your favorite music. Connect with the world around you physically, and take a break from the screen.
When it comes to taking care of yourself, Audre Lorde said it best:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”