In the Information Age, it’s the best of times and the worst of times.
We’re inundated with more information than ever, but it’s harder discern the good from the bad.
Sadly, many are drawn only to information that validates their worldview in our country.
Even worse, the loudest, most extreme voices only engage to argue or put the opposition on blast.
The dissemination of different data already was overwhelming before COVID-19, but the pressure from information overload is mounting since March.
During social distancing, we must endure, engage or shield ourselves in a laundry list of interactions: social media, employer policy announcements, news (and fake news) in all forms, family activities, traveling, virtual meetings, office politics and even the U.S. mail. (Here’s looking at you, campaign mailers and fraudsters claiming unemployment in our names).
While a lot of people are feeling anxiety, that doesn’t have to be the final story. Let’s all try to cope, take care of ourselves and be considerate of others in these unprecedented times.
Here’s a specific, self-help strategy to overcome worry and stress.
Author Rodney B. Dieser, an affiliate faculty member in professional counseling at the University of Northern Iowa, suggests a concept with a fancy name — optimal leisure lifestyle (OLL) — but it’s a pretty simple solution.
First, pursue serious leisure by developing a skill-based hobby that requires knowledge and patience. By serious, we mean an activity that takes effort and ultimately results in enjoyment, like studying creative writing, penning short stories or reconnecting with forgotten musical interests.
As a supplement, include some casual and project-based leisure for good measure.
Casual leisure requires low skills and focuses on pleasurable distractions, like streaming comedies or documentaries on Netflix.
Project-based leisure is the completion of goals through short-term activities. This could include organizational cleaning, gardening or weekly exercise routines.
Planned leisure can result in increased positive emotion.
“Research demonstrates that people can remedy stress if they laugh more (casual leisure), find a hobby (serious leisure) and engage in meaning-making activities such as volunteering in their communities or toward social causes (project-based leisure),” Dieser wrote for Counseling Today, a publication of the American Counseling Association.
In this era of social distancing, channel your positive passions, strengths and skills to help nonprofits or community groups that share similar interests. Instead of being part of the national problem, help find a local solution to make the world a better place.