36 Things to do Instead of Reading the Internet
The NY Times has always been my online go-to for distraction when I don’t feel like working. It’s been a fairly innocuous habit up to now. But in current news climate, my relatively healthy online habits have taken a serious nosedive, with waaaaay too frequent checking of the (deeply unsettling) news, as well as far too many trips to Facebook where I am disturbed by the comments of some of my closest family members.
My worst online twitch, by far, is Twitter, where the incoming data is like a machine gun firing in my face from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep.
None of this is good for a person.
Obviously we need to be informed citizens and kept abreast of information that will help us take action, if we are so inclined. And I am so inclined. But constant updates and dances with trolls will do a soul grave harm. It’s difficult to look away when you believe passionately in certain ideals, but we must. Because as quickly as things seem to be happening, many are illusory and inconsequential. The really important things that are unfolding are still happening at a pace that a once daily read of the newspaper could probably keep you up to speed on. Even the print version! (Which has the old-timey benefit of fact-checking before the rush to print.)
Yes, connect with friends, sign up for events you want to attend, sign legitimate petitions and find tips for making your voice heard. Organize. Donate. Take action. But consuming toxic amounts of media is not the solution. I, like some, find it hard to resist the urge to know everything, to bounce from one link to the next, willing the news to get better and just stewing over every outrageous twist. It doesn’t help that I live in the media capital of the world, I work in communications and I have a blog. The deck is stacked against me.
My husband and I actually sat and watched cable news for like an hour the other night.
This is something we have not done together since people were standing on rooftops after Katrina. Yes I may tune into the news briefly, especially if something very grave is happening. But when the kids are in bed and my husband and I are both done with the day’s affairs and ready to sit down and watch something together for an hour, it is never the news. Unprecedented events have infiltrated our own living room!
At the end of the day, I know this mainlining of news will not help me be more effective in my response. All it has accomplished is to put me into an awful, teetering frame of mind. So I’m working on stepping back from the abyss. And I am pulling out every trick I can think of. Not since the days of quitting smoking have I worked so hard to re-direct my brain.
Here are a few ideas I’ve had for things to do other than read the internet:
- Listen to music.
- Play music. Piano is saving my soul right now.
- Color with your kids.
- Color on your own if you don’t have any kids. This.
- Log all those missed transactions into your YNAB.
- Play with your dog. Or cat, if you’re into that kind of thing.
- Lose yourself in a great book.
- Work on a to do list.
- Then work on a “today” list.
- Merchandise your kids’ toys so that they are inspired to play with them again.
- Do a ten minute high intensity workout.
- Write some things on your calendar that too easily fall through the cracks, like game night.
- Look at school calendars.
- Look through your recipe book for meal inspiration.
- Work on a meal plan for the week.
- Make a list of people with upcoming birthdays who would be delighted and surprised by getting a birthday card in the mail.
- Do your non-perishable grocery shopping online — it’s cheaper.
- Go through your kids’ artwork and throw away anything you don’t intend to hand to them when they walk into their new home when they are married.
- Send a postcard to your Senator, Congressperson, or local representative, telling them why you agree or disagree with them on an issue you care about.
- Make a dentist appointment – you’ve put it off too long.
- Take a walk. If it’s cold, bundle up.
- Plan a weekend trip, really far in advance. No pressure, no stress.
- Delete all the saved items in your Amazon cart.
- Deal with all those items you keep meaning to return.
- Set up automatic transfers into your savings account.
- Unsubscribe to annoying emails.
- Research ways to volunteer.
- Plan a visit to whatever cultural institution is nearest to your home.
- Organize some socializing with neighbors.
- Throw a ball back and forth with your kid.
- Cancel something. Anything.
- Mix up a simple pumpkin bread batter and throw it in the freezer. Pop it in the oven as soon as you wake up on a cold Saturday morning. This is the best thing ever.
- Look at the books on your shelf, pick up an old favorite and leaf through it.
- Delete crappy photos on your phone.
- Brush up on whatever language you studied at school, or at any point in life, and dream about traveling to that country one day.
- Try to sit quietly for even one minute and focus on your breath.
If all else fails, limit yourself to pretty pictures on Pinterest. And for the love of God, never EVER read comments on trending Twitter posts.
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