Highly sensitive people are directly affected by their environment, so controlling our environment, to some degree, is necessary. We absorb things around us like a sponge, whether it’s people’s moods, horror movies, or a violent or a sad story in the news. This can create a sense of overwhelm, discomfort, and anxiety.
Some will say that we’re burying our heads in the sand when it comes to avoid news, but I strongly disagree. We don’t need news in our face 24 hours a day, which is what we’re faced with, and the news of today is much more devastating and common than I ever remember it being in the past.
My empathy is strong, and can overwhelm me quickly. I’m sure you remember 9/11. I was so caught up in the families’ pain for so many days, in tears, my husband had to physically pull me from the TV and shut off all access to the outside world so I could recover emotionally. I can have this same reaction to local news stories.
For a highly sensitive person, a drizzle feels like a monsoon. – Anon.
We live in superhighway of information, so we’re being constantly bombarded by negative ads, information, news stories and the like. If you work online, it seems utterly impossible to escape it. Every headline makes it’s way onto every social network with everybody sharing it thousands and thousands of times, with their uninvited opinions. It can be a nightmare for an HSP who is already dealing with other sensitivities throughout the day.
Even when we leave the house, it follows us by way of our phones, the TVs blasting information at the gym (the bar, the airport, etc.), and the radio in your car. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to tune out some of it.
Avoid News Online
This is a big one. First and foremost, don’t have your browser homepage set to Yahoo or some such thing that yells shocking headlines at you first thing in the morning. Set it to the google search page, your inbox, photo or “quote of the day” page.
If you have social networking accounts like Facebook and Twitter, both of which are notorious for ads and news at ludicrous levels, shut them down. I know this sounds extreme, and it is, BUT it will free up your mind in a way that you can’t fully comprehend until you do it (your FB account will only be deactivated unless you request permanent deletion via email).
I work from home, so I need social networks like these to market this blog, however I was able to deactivate my personal Facebook account and still keep my business page by transferring administrative rights to my husband (who has a mostly inactive FB account of his own). I kept Twitter, but am very selective about who I follow. If they start getting political, going on rants, or reposting disturbing images or anything else that’s offensive to me, then I unfollow them. I can’t tell you how much emotional weight this has lifted from my shoulders.
“What about my friends and family?”, you ask. We still text and email each other, go out for lunch, and even a phone call now and then. Do I feel out of the loop? Not really.
I’m not sure how we got to a place where we need to share every single little detail of our lives with the world. Do our egos really require constant attention in the form of comments and likes all day long?
I want to live my life, and not spend too much time watching others live theirs. Do I like knowing how they’re doing? Of course, but I can get that through other means.
Compromise at Home
At home, I have control over most things, but the TV is sometimes a place where compromise plays a big role. Even so, I can always leave the room. If you want to avoid news that’s on at 10pm and your spouse wants to watch it, slip out to go read a book before bed, or take a bath instead. Use it as your alone time. If the noise is too much (my hubs likes surround sound), close the door, put in ear plugs while you’re reading or opt for music through your headphones.
If there’s something you want to watch, then compromise. Wednesday nights, you get to watch your show and Fridays, they get to watch theirs.
And when a small group of you and your friends wants to go out to a movie (or stay in), don’t put yourself in a position to be surprised by the gore or horror after you get there. Look up the movie on IMDB (there is an app available that will make it easier to check on the fly) under “parental guidance” to see if it’s something you should even be watching. If not, don’t feel guilty about passing on the movie in lieu of dinner or drinks with everyone next time. Don’t put yourself through the emotional ringer just to please everyone else. It’s so not worth it.
Snub Negativity In Your Car
This one is pretty easy. No more radio. Just turn it off and instead opt for Spotify (or another music streaming app) and plug in your cell phone instead to listen to your music. Be sure to subscribe monthly or pay in advance for ad removal. You can create your own playlists, and some apps will even discover new music for you based on what you already listen to. It’s a great way to listen to what you love and avoid news and advertising at the same time.
If you don’t have a streaming music app subscription, or don’t want one, opt for playing a music CD or audio book in the car. If you’re anything like me, then you probably enjoy a good book, and what’s better than someone else reading it to you?
Media You Have No Control Over
Newspapers and TV are everywhere. You can walk by headlines on the street or in a waiting room, or encounter the news on TV at your local gym, bar, or airport. Apparently, the world believes we need to know everything every minute of every day, or that we need to be entertained 24/7. The best you can do in these situations is turn away, or just leave. Ignoring it is the best option, and it is possible.
The news is on at my gym every day on five different TV screens (and this is a small town gym), so I put on my headphones and listen to music. Because these TVs sit right in front of the cardio area, I also close my eyes or look elsewhere to avoid the visuals. Closing my eyes when listening to music allows me to get lost in my head, which, as you know, can be a great thing.
Protect Your High Sensitivity
In general, technology can find you almost anywhere these days, so be vigilant. Don’t give in when your emotions are at risk. The manipulation of these ads, shows, and news can be debilitating for some of us. Advertising may seem innocent enough, but many of them are fear-based and highly manipulative of your feelings. Take the pharmaceutical or abused animal commercials, for example. It’s as easy as turning the channel.
On a side note, negativity can come from people too, so limit exposure to toxic people in your life. This can be one of the most draining types of exposure you may encounter, so it must be limited. If you can’t avoid them (like say a family member), try setting some boundaries.
Being an HSP has it’s lows and highs, but the more you regulate the exposure to the cause of some of the lows, the more elevated you will feel on a day-to-day basis. Try it out, and you’ll see what I mean.
Let me know if turning down the negativity around you helps by commenting below.