Tired of all the toxicity in the world? You’re not alone. While we’re living in an undeniably polarized cultural environment, experts say we can get 2019 off on a more positive note by going through a negativity detox.
First, ask yourself a tough question: Are you part of the problem? “Eliminate any discussions about money, politics or religion outside of your home, because you’re not going to convince anyone to change their attitudes,” says Dr. Taliba M. Foster of Main Line Psychiatric in Ardmore.
People are entitled to their views, says Foster, but expressing them in a productive way isn’t always easy. “As a general rule, it’s best to keep hot topics out of your normal daily discourse,” she says.
Next, change the channel—literally. Limit exposure to cable TV news commentary, advises Tanya Tecce, a therapist who practices in Springfield. “If you watch that kind of news in the morning, you’re in reactionary mode all day,” says Tecce.
Replace that bombast with music, TED talks, podcasts and other forms of informational entertainment that enrich your brain without depressing it. And while you’re at it, do a social media cleanse “People feel badly about themselves because they want the lifestyles that they see on Instagram and Facebook,” says Wynnewood’s Tyra S. Gardner, an anger management and cyber psychology specialist. “Those aren’t usually real, or at least not the whole story.”
Related: 5 Ways to Digitally Detox
Social media can be an echo chamber that perpetuates anger, narrow mindedness and depression, says Gardner, who challenges patients to eschew social media for 30 days.
Tecce agrees—with the caveat that, when it comes to social media, going cold turkey isn’t always doable. She suggests deleting Facebook from your phone so you’re not constantly checking your feed. Next, edit your friends. “I unfollow everyone except those who post positive affirmation, great photos, inspiring quotes and other kinds of positivity,” Tecce says.
Also unsubscribe from mass marketed promotional emails. “Be ruthless,” Tecce advises. “If it doesn’t light you up when you see it, unsubscribe.”
Foster has similar advice about tangible and digital clutter. “Get rid of things that no longer serve you—Pinterest pages, people you follow, what’s on your night table and in your closet,” she says. “Donate or delete.”
People can sometimes be the biggest sources of negativity. “First, identify them. Who is adding to your life? Who is causing too much drama?” says Gardner.
What if family and coworkers fall into the toxic category? “We all have emotional vampires in our lives, and we’re often hesitant to cut ties,” Foster concedes. “But if there are people who don’t have your best interests at heart, limit exposure to them.”
“Be mindful about who and what you allow into your bubble,” Tecce adds. “Unsolicited invasions on your peace can have a negative cumulative effect on your everyday life.”
To keep it positive, reengineer your day. Start the morning with quiet time, Tecce says. “Don’t worry about proper meditation, but do find a few minutes of silence,” she suggests, whether that’s before waking the kids or while you make coffee. Even a few minutes of silence gets the day off to a good start. “That way, you’re not automatically in fight-or-flight mode, responding to emails, reacting to news, or dealing with your kids or traffic.”
Don’t overschedule yourself, either. Make a list of two or three things you want to get done each day. “Many people have a to-do list for their to-do list, then at the end of the day, they feel that they haven’t accomplished anything,” says Foster. “Get down to minutia, be very task-based and schedule the time to do it.”
Create an evening ritual to end the day and segue into sleep. Drink a cup of decaffeinated tea, meditate or take a bath. “Rituals have a psychological effect on our nervous system,” says Tecce. “At night, they cue our brains that it’s time to downshift into sleep.”
“Carve out 30 minutes for yourself every single day,” says Gardner.
Just don’t spend that half hour on your phone or watching the news. “Reading is a great option,” Gardner says. “Bedtime stories aren’t just for kids.”