A delicate balance.

Breaking news: 2020 and 2021 have been stressful.

Nick Jonas puts his hands to his mouth with the words "Pretends to be shocked" appearing at the bottom of the screen.

OK, it’s not breaking news. But it’s true! In terms of event quantity, 2020 ranks among the 10 most eventful years since 1700 – and it’s certainly the most hectic of the 21st century. 2021 is off to a similar start.

For most people, staying in the loop isn’t the problem – knowing when to log off is.

Trying to keep up with a global pandemic on top of work, class and your personal life doesn’t leave much room to breathe. In fact, burning out is more common than ever. On the other hand, you don’t want to tune out the news cycle completely – staying informed is your first line of defense against everything 2021 continues to throw at you.

A child riding an ATV labelled "2020" chases a child on foot labelled "me".

So, where do you draw the line? How do you strike a balance between staying up-to-date and spiralling out of control?

Never fear, friend – that’s what IGNITE is here to tell you. Here’s our guide to staying informed without burning out:

Plan breaks

Most students get their news on a screen – be it a smartphone, TV or computer. It’s virtually impossible to avoid screens completely – especially while studying remotely – but you can limit your exposure to the endless news cycle by scheduling in breaks.

Jordan Peele says, "This ia my me time. This is Chad time."

If you’re the type to check your devices the minute you wake up, try replacing that habit with a little morning self-care. If you’re a late-night scroller, leave your screens in the next room while you sleep.

Smartphone users can also set a timer for their most-used apps. Once it’s up, you’re locked out for the day.

Androids let you do this by going into your phone settings and tapping on “Digital Wellbeing.” iPhone users can limit app time by going to “Screen Time” under their phone settings.

It’s amazing what a little time off can do.

A cartoon bunny sips on pink lemonade.

Get off social media

If limiting your screen time doesn’t feel like enough, consider taking a full-on break from social media. Seriously – delete the apps from your phone.

How long you stay offline is up to you, but it should be long enough to clear your mind without it feeling like a punishment.

Or, at the very least, just don’t read the comments.

A cartoon computer is smashed with a baseball bat.

Find trusted news sources

If you get most of your news from social media, you’re not alone – more than half of 18-24 year olds do. And, there are certainly some upsides to using social media as a news source.

Conversely, though, these sites tend to be hot spots for misinformation. When all your news comes from the trending page, you risk exposing yourself to opinions voiced to upset you instead of inform you.

Judge Judy buries her head in her hands.

If you’re burning out because of your timeline, consider catching up on current events elsewhere. Throw on CBC‘s nightly news broadcast while you make dinner or spend a few would-be social media minutes browsing top stories on The Globe and Mail.

That way, you get your news without all the noise.

Redirect your energy

It’s no use arguing with strangers on the internet. It might feel cathartic but, once the dust settles, you’ll probably end up feeling just as worked up and burnt out as before.

Sheldon Cooper says, "That didn't help at all."

Discuss the issues that matter IRL through meaningful conversations with loved ones. Working out ways to support people in your community with your sister is much healthier than calling user016754833 a “doorknob.”

Do your part

Burning out isn’t the only problem the last few months have presented – they’ve also made us feel helpless.

You can help yourself and others by contributing to relevant causes you care about. Write to your city councillor, member of Parliament or member of provincial parliament in support of policies you believe in. If you can, donate to people who the pandemic hit especially hard this year.

Information is important, but action will help us build a better world.

A cartoon monster hugs planet Earth.

Can’t shake the stress? Protect your peace by making a virtual counselling appointment with Humber’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC).

The SWAC offers free, professional and confidential counselling to all Humber and Guelph-Humber students. Whether you’re anxious about papers, partners or the pandemic, the SWAC has the resources to help you get through it.

Remember: burnout is temporary. IGNITE’s commitment to you is not.

Give yourself a break by taking an elite nap in your remote study space.

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