The Brexit vote kicked me hard. I’ve been deeply depressed about it since it happened, not only because of the suffering it will cause me and my family, but the awfulness it has unleashed on so many people. It’s horrible in every way, and it threw me into a dark pit.
At the beginning of the year, I decided I couldn’t continue being so sad, and I began to take steps to make myself feel better. Living with so much uncertainty is hard, so I had to find a way to deal with the fact that uncertainty is the new normal. I identified that my most immediate need was to reduce the ‘noise’ around me because there was a lot of it, especially online.
The first thing I did was unsubscribe from email lists. I was getting a lot of newsletters, advertisements, and updates that I didn’t need or want. Most of the time the ‘unsubscribe’ link worked, but occasionally, I’ve had to contact companies directly to ask them to remove me from their mailing lists. I’d say I’ve reduced my inbox content by about 95% and it’s great. It seems like a silly thing, but it did remove some stress.
The next thing I did was curate my social media. Facebook has a ‘mute for 30 days’ feature and I found it helpful to quieten my feed. As I didn’t want to unfriend anyone, this temporary mute option was useful to block out frequent posters of memes and other topics I found stressful. I unfollowed quite a few people on Twitter, too. I have a weird relationship with Twitter. I go there to commune with people who are just as distressed as I am, but often find that in talking about the thing that distresses us, I end up more distressed. So I have deleted Twitter from my iPhone and iPad. It’s not a clean break (I can still get to it from my desktop), but it’s a start.
The third thing I did was disable anything that was sending me notifications on my phone. This was a bit trickier, because sometimes the notifications would arrive anyway. When that happened, I simply deleted the app in question. Not having ten notifications vying for my attention when I turn on my phone has been a relief. Again, it doesn’t seem like a big thing, but once it’s gone, I realised it was a source of stress.
There are other bigger, more substantial things I’m doing to reduce the noise in my life, but they require a bit more thought and work, so I wanted to offer an easy list to start if you’re interested in minimising. I hope to write more about stress reduction, but it’s quite a sore subject for me. I’d welcome any tips you have for living a bit more simply and reducing stress.