2017 has been a long, exhausting year — which makes a recent tweet from actor Kumail Nanjiani and its responses so, so necessary right now.
The “Silicon Valley” and “The Big Sick” star asked his Twitter followers how they “find the balance between being engaged and mentally healthy,” which is a major challenge for a lot of us who’ve spent the past year or so being more politically active and involved with the world around us than ever before.
How do you find the balance between being engaged and mentally healthy? @ me.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) December 5, 2017
Burnout can take a major toll on your mental and physical health, and there’s no one right solution that works for everyone. Luckily, hundreds of people responded to Nanjiani’s tweet with what has worked for them.
Here’s 21 of the best solutions people shared for how they balance being engaged with staying mentally healthy.
Author Jonny Sun stressed the importance of finding self-care tools on the platform you use to engage, listing his Tiny Care Bot as an example of how to bring a bit of a break to social media.
if you’re dedicated to staying super engaged, then find ppl/tools/resources on the platform you choose to stay engaged on that provide you with comfort/joy/a mental health break! (ie. i made @tinycarebot for that very reason, so i could use twitter for self care while on twitter)
— jomny sun (@jonnysun) December 5, 2017
Other users shared their favorite social media escapes as well.
Several responses urged the creation of boundaries and coming to terms with the fact that if you set out to fix all of the world’s problems, you probably won’t fix any at all.
I remind myself that if I don’t take time to detach and relax, my efforts overall will suffer. No issue *needs me*, much less 24/7.
— Geoff LaTulippe (@DrGMLaTulippe) December 5, 2017
“Pick just one thing you’re willing to go to the mat for,” tweeted actress Justine Bateman. “Everything else you just ‘support.'”
Pick just one thing you’re willing to go to the mat for, everything else you just “support.”
— Justine Bateman (@JustineBateman) December 5, 2017
Others scaling social media and news consumption down to manageable intervals. “The world goes on whether you drain yourself keeping up or get a roundup at the end of the day,” reads one response.
Turn off notifications and set times to check social. The world goes on whether you drain yourself keeping up or get a roundup at the end of the day.
— kristen (@kciccolini) December 5, 2017
“You don’t need to be the archivist for every single shitty thing that happens,” advised another.
taking a day off when I need it. it will still be horrible when you get back. you don’t need to be the archivist for every single shitty thing that happens.
— betro (@betro) December 5, 2017
Take breaks. Spending every Sunday avoiding the news usually works for me. I also watch West Wing on Sundays just to recalibrate with a competent leader. Take twitter off your phone. Only use on laptop.
— Jingle Boogie 🎄🎁 (@LikeAFineWino) December 5, 2017
I found when is was able to stay off of Twitter and shift to podcasts it helped. With podcasts the hosts have time to digest and analyze what is actually going on. On Twitter it’s a constant fire hose of panic.
— ashley riehlin (@asherly) December 5, 2017
Another popular suggestion was to make a point of doing things unrelated to whatever’s taking up all of your energy, like meditation, volunteering, visiting a museum, or exercising.
Delete Twitter, FB from phone so you’re not *constantly* engaged. Spending more time at museums, parks and the library has saved me this year
— S. Schlachtenhaufen (@Steffen_Schlach) December 5, 2017
It’s important to engage in other things sometimes, and when you do: really engage. Live your life. Love. Laugh. Meditation helps. I also try to have long term optimism 🙂 We’re being stress-tested as a country but I believe that good will prevail 💕I hope that helps.
— Dr. Leslie Carr (@DrLeslieCarr) December 5, 2017
I try to go to BJJ in the mornings and spend time with people who don’t care about the same politics that I do, but that I can have positive interactions with.
— wesinjapan (@wesinjapan) December 5, 2017
I run a lot. I try and do some volunteer work. I watch old episodes of ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Fresh Prince’
— Jonathan Daly (@jonnyangel) December 5, 2017
Of course, it’s important to seek out the small joys in life and allow yourself to indulge a bit.
Do you take comfort in a video of an anxious goat that loves to wear a duck costume? Then you should absolutely watch it.
There is this video of a goat with anxiety that wears a duck costume to feel better I’ve been thinking of giving that a shot.
— Laraine Pennington (@LaraineBaker) December 5, 2017
You have to search the darkness for small joys. Savor the ones you find.
Even then it’s still tough and those moments can be few and far between.
— Matt Norton (@i_am_MattNorton) December 5, 2017
Another tip was to try to engage with content that gives you hope, which can motivate action just as well as rage (but without having to feel so rage-y all the time).
Start with retweeting stuff that excites/motivates you rather than stuff that enrages you. It really helps. Set small, achievable goals for engagement, and be consistent. If other people motivate you, get some friends to join you.
— Jana Maiuri (@janamaiuri) December 5, 2017
Artist Rob Sheridan suggested channeling the frustration and exhaustion you might feel from too much engagement into something beautiful and productive.
There’s no good answer. It’s hard to deny the toll this year has taken on our minds, our productivity. Just keep channeling it into art. The Big Sick was a beautiful & heartfelt connective tissue between cultures. Keep making things like that, and keep tweeting your way through.
— Rob #SaveNetNeutrality Sheridan (@rob_sheridan) December 5, 2017
If there’s an inspirational quote that helps you keep your head above water, that’s great. You might even consider printing it out or writing it on a Post-It note to keep near your desk as a reminder.
Saved me on election night: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” — attributed to the Talmud
— Sarah Clark (@thesarahclark) December 5, 2017
Possibly the best bits of advice in the bunch came with suggestions to think about loved ones as a way to help keep everything in perspective.
My grand twins have kept me sane. I see them 2-3 times weekly. No phone, boys and girls toys, a dog and them. Two little people who know nothing about evil or fear. They are pure joy! Animals and kids are sanity for me.
— Copperbird (@copperbird7) December 5, 2017
“I look at my daughters and remember who it is we’re still fighting for,” wrote Phil Nickinson. “We might not win ’em all, but they’ll see us trying.”
I look at my daughters and remember who it is we’re still fighting for. We might not win ’em all, but they’ll see us trying.
— Phil Nickinson (@mdrndad) December 5, 2017
If none of that helps, both “God” and Seth Rogen seem to suggest smoking pot as a solution — which, if that’s your thing, do what you’ve got to do, but you might maybe want to try some of the other suggestions as well.
Weed (I’m neither engaged or mentally healthy)
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 5, 2017
— God (@TheGoodGodAbove) December 5, 2017
Nanjiani was looking for advice for himself, but thanks to his significant platform, his tweet started an important discussion about self-care and mental health in our current environment.
We can all keep that conversation going.
If there’s something that’s been working for you — whether it’s therapy, meditation, a new hobby, or something completely different — feel free to share those tips with friends and family.
If nothing else, it lets others who might feel too shy about opening up about struggles they’re experiencing know they’re not alone.