Join Courtney Weaver as she chats with Jessica Johnston-York of the Carruth Center to talk about how to take care of yourself during times of societal unrest. They’ll talk mindfulness, meditation, and provide some tips for critical media consumption.

If you’re interested in making an appointment with the Carruth Center, please call them at 304-293-4431. For more information on their services, visit: https://carruth.wvu.edu/. For more information on the media bias chart discussed in the podcast, visit: https://www.adfontesmedia.com/static-mbc/

Transcript:

Welcome everyone to Wellbeing Wednesdays. Happy New Years – it’s our first recording of the year, so I hope you all had a resting and safe holiday out there. My name is Courtney Weaver. I'm the director over at WellWVU and with me today, once again for her third time, is Dr. Jessica Johnson-York from our Carruth Center.

So hello, Jessica and happy new year. Hey, happy. Well, you know, happy new year. It feels like much of last year. True. We all thought the dumpster fire of 2020 would somehow cease with the turning of the clock, but it really kind of hasn't has it. Yeah. Time is a flat circle is what I've been hearing lately.

It does feel like that. Yeah. Uh, we always like to, everyone's always, so I guess optimistic about a new year, like a new year, I'm a new person and it's like, nah, everything's pretty much going to stay the same. We're still in a pandemic. We're still in a time of incredible social upheaval. So that actually is what we're going to really be talking about today is the what's happening in our society currently, but really how can we take care of ourselves?

During this time. So we got someone from the Carruth Center, so we can talk a little bit more about self-care. So just what's the first recommendation you have for what you can do for yourself in a time of political unrest. Yeah. I think that in a time like this, where things feel really outside of our control and everything feels very chaotic and unpredictable.

One thing that can be really helpful is figuring out what, what we do have control over. And, you know, there's a couple of things there, but some things that come to mind is like, what can I actually take action on? Like, what is within my control? So, you know, if I hear a lot about like, Oh right to your representatives, call your representatives.

And like that actually has a big impact. You know, they, they listen to the people who vote for them. So if there is a policy you don't support and you want them to take action, let them know. Right. And what's really cool is that nowadays you can send them an email and you don't even have to call if you're uncomfortable talking on the phone.

Like I am, because I'm a millennial, uh, same, I will not talk to a human on the phone unless I absolutely have to. I use the email templates and right. And you're, they're even, um, like texting services as well. That will automatically compose a letter to your representatives for you. And it's. Pretty cool.

And that way it's like, it's like the lazy activists. I love that. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, well, another way you can, I mean, you can run in color representatives if you're able to, you can also give back by donating money or you can donate some of your time to like a racial or social justice. Organization. So maybe you with the pandemic, you know, if you're uncomfortable going to a March or a kind of protest, you know, find a local organization or national organization that aligns with your values and give some money.

If you can, even if it's, you know, only a few dollars, every dollar kind of helps. Those are things we can do, maybe that are outside of us. But what about like internally? What should we be talking about in terms of like our emotions and whatnot? Yeah, I think at a time like this there's I noticed in myself a lot of emotions going on.

And, and I imagine that that's probably the case for a lot of other people, a lot of fear, anger, confusion, sadness. I think just. Allowing yourself to acknowledge and accept your emotions, not try and force yourself to, Oh, I can't feel this, this can't affect me at all. Let me push it away. Feelings don't really work like that.

We can't just like push them down and pretend they're not there because what happens is they will, they will come out, uh, when you're not ready for them. Um, so I think just acknowledging, like, What is the impact that these events are having on me? What does that mean for me? Um, I'm taking it back to the movie frozen, where she sings a whole song about conceal don't feel terrible advice.

Terrible. That was like child abuse. Yeah. So I think I've mentioned that before, but it's good to, good to say it again. Don't listen to else's parents.

Um, but you also might notice some differences, uh, in your body like physically. So it could be that you're feeling maybe a little bit more tired than you normally are. Sort of a general sort of on we kind of feeling so like take care of and listen to your body. Like when you know, you need a break, I know that for me last weekend.

Cause normally I exercise every day of some kind it's not extreme, but uh, last Saturday I got up. I didn't get out of my pajamas till three o'clock. I was like, my body does not want to do anything. I just wants to lay here and watch this marathon of crappy television. For the next six hours and I did it and I felt a lot better about it.

Yeah. Yeah. We'll take care of your body in whatever way that, that means. Exactly. Yeah. And another thing you might find yourself doing, I know I do. This is I'm on, I'm on social media a lot because you know, obviously all of my social connections are on there, but I'm also, I also follow a lot of different news sources.

And so I often get news from. Like Facebook or Instagram. And it's hard when these things are happening, you just keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling, and there's a term for that called doom scrolling. Um, and it can really take a toll. So another piece of advice is to unplug from that, uh, which is, can be really difficult because we all.

You know, are struggling with that, like dependence on our electronics, but try unplugging for that, even if it's just for an hour, maybe challenge yourself to it for an hour. See how you feel at the end of it. Yeah. I think there's sevens, you can put on your phone that limit the amount of time you're on certain apps.

So if you know, you know, scrolling through Instagram for three hours is not going to be good for you. You know, set a timer. I can have 20 minutes of doom scrolling and then I really need to move on now. Yeah, that's a, that's a good idea. Uh, and then when you're unplugging, you know, from these electronics, you could also do other things that you enjoy.

So maybe you enjoy moving your bodies. So doing some kind of exercise, maybe you enjoy reading a book, even if that's on, you know, an E reader it's still reading. Um, and then maybe you want to cook a balanced meal, uh, because you got. Like I did a food processor for Christmas and you need to learn how to use it.

Um, or, um, and maybe you put down your phone, but you might also turn on the television and watch like your favorite movie or a new face. So those are also ways that we can, uh, take care of ourselves by doing things that we enjoy. Um, and then just, do you want to talk a little bit about like practicing meditation as a way for self-care?

Yeah, absolutely. I think in times like these, I have a lot of thoughts running through my head and it can be really overwhelming and it can feel really distracted and pulled in a lot of different directions. And so I think, uh, practicing mindful meditation can be a great way to stay grounded and present in the current moment, rather than, you know, I'm, I'm worrying or dreading the future, you know, which is something I can't predict or control or, um, Critical and beating myself up in the past, which, you know, may not be super helpful for me.

Either mindfulness can help me, you know, be aware of what's happening right now, be present and kind of better address what's going on. Um, so meditation can look really different for you depending on what you need. Um, you know, some people really like it and then find it really helpful. Um, I've tried to practice meditation and it is hard.

It is a skill you have to have to work on. Um, so I think if, if you're trying this out, like I fully expect that you're going to be distracted and you're going to have to practice, bring yourself back into the present moment. That's just part of the process. I don't know if there is any human who can just like turn off their thoughts entirely that that's not a thing.

Right. Um, Yeah. Um, so yeah, working on being more in the present moment and, you know, just expressing gratitude for what is going well in your life. Um, I find that writing daily gratitude, um, you know, writing positive statements about myself, about my life and my experiences can help remind me that, you know, Not even though the world is a hell fire right now, there, there is some like positive things, um, and to kind of acknowledge, acknowledge that too.

Um, rather than just focusing on everything that's going wrong. And there's also, there's a, I got, I don't know if it's called a technique or not, but there's a way that you can ground yourself in the moment. And so maybe like take a beat to. Turn your mind off. Um, and this is a technique that's been used by, you know, therapists and other mental health professionals before.

Uh, and it's very simple. So you look at your immediate environment and you notice five things. You can see four things, you can touch three things you can hear. Two things you can smell. And one thing you can taste and that will help you stay in the present and know that you're safe in that moment. Um, so if you see something like particularly jarring, maybe try doing that and see if that can help as well.

Um, yeah, this can be really helpful if you experienced trauma. You know, if you're, if you're frying yourself, you know, flashing back to a time and being, being retraumatized that can help you really feel grounded in the present moment. Yeah. And another thing that might be helpful is you've probably heard this before, but don't read the comments.

Uh, I mean, that's just not even in times of unrest, that's just in general. Uh, we probably shouldn't be reading the comments because there are folks to their whole mission in life is to be disruptive in some way, shape or form. So maybe if you see yourself, that can be part of like the doom scrolling process.

If you see yourself doing that, Maybe once you notice say, Oop, I should stop and move on. And along those same lines, um, this is tricky because sometimes the people that this applies to might be related to you or might be someone who's very close to you or your family, but yeah. Try not to engage with people, you know, won't change their mind.

Um, because then it's just a few title argument that goes in circles and it's not good for anybody. So if you know that if, you know, for sure that that person is still going to have the same thought after your conversation, to not put in that emotional labor to take a step back and say, you know what, we don't agree.

I'm not going to continue with this. And that can be really. Really difficult. And I, I know I found myself in some circular arguments like that over the past few weeks. It's, uh, it's tough because you think you can, you will. We always think that we can change someone else's mind, but most of the time that's really not the case.

And you know, this is really challenging when either you really care about that person or you really identify as an activist. And so you, you want to be out there, you know, kind of. Changing the way that we, you know, think or interpret. And, you know, I think this is a time where we really need to take a step back and take care of ourselves.

Um, you know, I recently had to unfriend, so when on Facebook, because they said, you know what, having this distant connection. Um, right now, based on what I'm seeing is not healthy for me. Um, and would not be productive for me to engage in this conversation. So I'm going to remove that person and, you know, instead, maybe I'll go on Tik TOK and look at cute dogs.

And that is just better for me. Yeah. Because I actually had a similar situation. I've unfriended him. A few people the past couple of weeks. Um, and so I guess on the opposite side of that spectrum is, um, if you do want to talk, you know, reach out to your support network, reach out to friends and family and just maybe.

Tom, you don't necessarily have to talk about what's happening, but just know, just reach out to them and know that they're still there. Uh, and that can, that can help as well. But if you are finding yourself in more like serious distress, so, uh, there are professional services that are available. So just do you want to talk a little bit about what's available at Carruth?

Yeah, absolutely. So we are continuing to offer a virtual services for students. The majority of our services are free and built in your student fees. Uh, so we still have, um, individual counseling services over zoom. Uh, we have a number of groups that we are offering this semester and, you know, related to what you were saying, Courtney about like talking to people who, who get it, um, who have similar experiences.

I think groups can be really great because you can. Meet with like-minded people or people who have shared experiences and feel the sense of connection and safety. Um, so in particular, one of the groups that we're offering this semester is a BiPAP support group. Um, so students who identify as, um, by pocket.

And so that may be a good place to start. If that's a shared experience for you. Um, if you're interested in, in getting access to our services, uh, you would just call her our main number. And I know we talked about talking to the phone being hard, so I do apologize it, you do have to call us, um, that number is (304) 293-4431.

And then we can get you scheduled for an initial triage appointment, so we can talk about, uh, what services are going to be most helpful for you in particular. Nice. And of course we will put, uh, the website for Caruso and their phone number in the description for the podcast. So just in case people don't have a pen handy, if you're listening to this while you're driving.

Yeah, my bad. No worries. No worries. Um, I think, uh, and then, so our final self-care tip, I guess, for this time, and this is something that I try to do, um, and think about, and just I'm sure that you did this too, is be mindful of. What media you are consuming. Um, and so that actually brings us into the second part of this podcast, where we're going to talk about a little bit of critical media consumption, because there are lots of different news sources out there.

Um, and then social media tends to proliferate, um, News in a way that I is unheard of at a speed, which is very rapid. Uh, and I don't know if anyone watched that documentary on Netflix called this social dilemma, but as it turns out, uh, the algorithms that were created there, uh, they tend to actually proliferate, um, False news a little bit more than actual news.

So we're going to talk a little bit about how we can think about what we're looking at. Um, so some questions to ask ourselves. So, first one, how are you receiving your information? Are you going right to the source? Of something. Um, or is it something that you've seen like in a tweet or in a Facebook post that's a screenshot?

Cause I think those are really popular now, particularly with memes, you know, you see people say funny things, but in this age you're also seeing, it could be that there it's a live reporting of an event or maybe someone's opinion of that event. Uh, and so do you know what the actual source of that information is?

Yeah, and very important to look at that because there's definitely been times where I've seen some headlines that have looked really outrageous. And then I realized it's from a satire site. So I should definitely not take it seriously. So definitely look at that source. Right. Onion is not an actual. Not a factual organization.

It definitely is more satirical. Um, so yeah, make sure like legit news sources tend to cite their sources, so make sure that you're seeing that itself. Um, and then think about if your source has some kind of confirmed bias. Um, And that that can be kind of difficult to figure out if you're not overly familiar with like the different types of news sources.

Cause maybe in your background, you only listen to like one channel when you were growing up or maybe you were exposed to several different ones, but how do you know if there's. Bias. Um, there's actually an organization that has created a media bias chart. I'm going to also put the link to this chart in the description of the podcast, but, um, it's the ad media.com, but they have a chart that basically maps out the political leanings and the reliability of the content of, I mean, dozens, if not like over a hundred different.

News sources. And when you look at the chart, you really want to focus on who was in the middle and at the top, because those are the ones that are most likely reporting facts and the ones that are most likely not leaning left or right. Uh, and actually the first top, the first one up there is AP RA Reuters.

I think they've spelled like pronouncing that, right. I don't actually know, but they're actually seen as like pretty much the most non-biased news source. So. Good to know, but we'll put that, we'll put that chart and the charts are updated, I believe on a monthly basis. So currently the December, 2020 chart is available, but you can also see previous ones like from November 20, 20 and all the months prior.

And then they also talk about the. A method, it went into to chart the different organizations. Uh, and I recommend you check that out if you're concerned about how they came up with their, their findings. Um, so I don't know, Jess, have you seen that chart? Have you seen it before? Yeah. Yeah, I have. I didn't know that they updated regularly, so that's really helpful.

Um, but I think I was. Excited to see that, that some of those new surface I follow were in, in sort of that middle and higher ground. And I think that helped me select, like, where are the sources that I want to go to, to get reliable information. And then I also like signed up for, you know, daily coverage so that, you know, I'll get like a notice on my phone that, you know, here's an email skim through.

Or, you know, there's certain podcasts that have daily, um, updates. So I can check in, get my media coverage and then check out, um, rather than constantly looking through updates all day long. Yeah, no, that's, that's really good. Uh, and I know I've been, um, throughout the past couple of years, like there are certain news sources that I hadn't ever.

Heard of it before, but came to my attention because they were the, um, the focus of like a con a controversial statement made by someone in power. But actually they're a non-partisan news source. And I'm talking about here ProPublica, but they're a fantastic news source and they do really in depth.

Reporting similar to like spotlight in the Boston globe. Um, and they are throughout the country do this work, but I'm plugging them. I'm not, they're not sponsoring this podcast, but there are good news. So, so maybe they should consider they're a non-profit they're not going to spend. All right. So, um, make sure and something that I like to do is, you know, finding, look how different, um, News sources cover the same event.

Like how are they framing the events of that they're covering? Are they saying certain things or are they not saying certain things I like to like see and how they can pair then somewhere in there is the truth. Uh, but that's also a lot of work and I know some people don't have the time or patience to do that.

Um, but if you can look at multiple sources, Um, and then I always think it's good to check out international news sites, uh, you know, look at the BBC or look at Al Jazeera. Like you'll see that they are reporting on things that are happening in our country in a way that's different. Uh, and it's always important to get a perspective that is.

Not American. I should say. I don't know. Does that make me not patriotic? I don't know. Um, and then actually sometimes you can get the best stuff from your local news coverage as well, because they often are reporting just on the facts and they're not providing, you know, an analysis of that. Uh, like you might see on, you know, the large major news networks.

Um, so check that out as well. Just, do you have any other ideas for like, or, uh, tips for folks. I think just being aware of, you know, as you're, as you're reading through things, is there a language that is persuasive or, you know, just, just be critical and in terms of how things are reported, um, and you know, this, this might be searching around until you find something that.

You feel like you can reliably connect with and maybe part of it is that, you know, I need to do a little more reading on this particular topic before I feel like I, I have a firm grasp over what's going on. Yeah, that's really good. Yeah. Is, is the article you're reading, trying to convince you of something that's something important to note.

Um, so, uh, we'll, we'll wrap this up and thank you again, just for, uh, participating in this time. And I know that, uh, we usually do a well-being snapshot, but. The, like I've been saying the past, I don't know, year that we've been doing this podcast it's feels like every topic that we've done has been the snapshot.

Uh, but I know that the events at our Capitol building that happened by the time this podcast is. Published two weeks ago. Um, I know it was, uh, it's likely to become a defining moment in our nation's history and years from now kind of like, you know, the moon landing or nine 11, you're going to know where you were, um, when it was happening.

And you're going to remember what you were doing, how you were feeling. Uh, and it's a strange feeling to know that we're living in. A poignant time in our history. It's, it's, it's something else. I don't know how to describe it. Maybe you have better words. Yes. I don't know. It's, it's heavy, you know, it's it, you know, it's, it's a lot.

And so I think, you know, when we, when we think about this past year, you know, I, I know a lot of people have talked about like, Oh, this pandemic, I learned how to bake bread. And I learned to speak a new language. Like. No, no one is no one who was actually doing all these things. Just, I hope that in this time you can reflect on, you know, did I take care of myself?

Uh, did I, did they get my needs met? Was I gentle with myself? Because you know, Yeah, Courtney, this is a, a pretty, um, impactful, monumental time. And I, and I hope that, um, you're doing what you need to take care of yourself. Ditto. All right. Really eloquent note of mine. Uh, we'll end it well, thank you all for listening.

We appreciate it. And thanks again to Jess for being a third time guest and we'll bring her back. Eight more times. All right. Well thank you all for listening, and we'll catch you next time on Wellbeing Wednesdays.