Lots of us have done a bit of fasting over the years. We may fast from food for one reason or another. Sometimes we fast for health reasons; i.e. we must fast gluten or other foods we are allergic to. At times we go on juice fasts where we spend one day a week drinking juice in order to clean out our bodies. There are a lot of health benefits that have been documented relating to fasting and many of us have tried a lot of them.
We also fast for spiritual reasons. We want to pray and spend more time focused on God than on our physical needs, so we may fast a meal or two. Other times we may fast one day a week. Sometimes we fast several days at a time in order to try to get God’s attention on a matter. We may also fast based on a spiritual calendar in order to fulfill the requirements of our religious beliefs.
All well and good, but have you ever considered a News Fast? For the past several weeks it has been excruciating to watch the news. Children are suffering, families are separated and politicians are vying for the camera in order to give us their opinion on the problems. Add to that the natural disasters that have occurred, i.e, volcanoes erupting, floods, forest fires and severe storms dropping hail the size of baseballs on people, just to name a few. After a while, any person who has an ounce of sensitivity in their souls can get Compassion Fatigue. We turn on the television and all we see are hurting people and there isn’t much we can do about it. By the time the nightly news is over, we have watched hundreds if not thousands of people deal with some very difficult situations.
After our thirty minute exposure to the news, we want to be able to focus our minds on something different, but who can? After all, we have just seen tremendous suffering played out in front of our eyes. Many times, we have heard from those suffering in first-person accounts. We cannot easily forget or ignore what they have been going through.
What can we do when we are confronted with all of the suffering? We can give to a charity that is working with victims of whatever crisis we are watching. We can write or call our congressmen if there is something they can do about a particular problem. And of course, we can pray for those in need. That said though, sometimes we just need to take a break from it all.
When everything gets a bit much for me, I go on a News Fast. I turn off the nightly news and I give myself a few days to recover from all of the suffering I have witnessed. It is the equivalent of taking a few mental health days and I find it’s essential for my state of mind. I may totally unplug and not turn on any kind of technology for a while. It is certainly peaceful and refreshing for me and I find it is necessary to maintain a positive mental attitude.
For centuries, people only knew about what was happening in their particular community. Every now and then, they would get news about what was happening further out from the radius of their communities, but there was no way they could hear about all of the bad news that was happening around the globe. I don’t believe we were created with the capacity to cope with the kinds of trauma we are subjected to night after night on the news without needing a break from it from time to time.
We need to learn to be kind to ourselves and give ours minds and hearts a break from all of the suffering and spend time focusing on more positive things. There are lots of ways to do this and each one of us knows what works for us to help us destress, unwind and rejuvenate. Whatever it takes, it is important to take care of ourselves so that we can function in a positive way in this problem-laden world we live in. Food Fast…Juice Fast…News Fast? I’ll definitely take the News Fast, thank you!