Self-Care For When The News Is A Little Scary
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
You turn on the news. You hear about infection rates soaring, increasing deaths and the prospect of months in social isolation - the world seems like an ever-growing hell-hole. It's becoming harder to ignore this never-ending cycle of bad news and I'm sure many of us are left feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
Of course, some anxiety is a good thing. It enables awareness and encourages us to take the steps necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones. However, prolonged anxiety can be draining and detrimental to our wellbeing. It's important to recognise when we're carrying that anxiety around with us and be mindful of the impact of the news and other media platforms. Is there a way to make yourself immune to the news stories? Of course not - we're human. But there are things we can do to control how much negativity we allow into our lives, and how this negativity affects our outlook.
One of the best things we can do when the news is overwhelming is to switch it off. This isn't limited to changing the TV channel, it could also include making a conscious effort to limit social media use too.
Sometimes, switching off can make us feel guilty and like we're ignoring a situation that is affecting millions worldwide. It's important to remember that leaving the news on won't help those in need, but it will affect our own well-being. Turning the world off for a few hours won't hurt anybody.
We're currently living through very uncertain times, and the news only exacerbates this. We're constantly reminded of the long-term economic impacts of the current situation, with many reporters commenting on the fact that the world will never be the same again. This is a terrifying prospect for many.
So, how can we prevent this uncertainty from negatively affecting our mental health? Accept it. Let go. Accept that there's no such thing as absolute certainty, and there are some things that are simply out of our control. Focus on what YOU can do to increase your feelings of security, but don't beat yourself up if you don't have all the answers right now.
GAIN SOME PERSPECTIVE
Our brain is built to be hyper-sensitive to potential threats, and so negative information tends to have more of an impact than positive. That'd be great if we were cavemen. It's important to remain a sense of balance. Yes, there are bad things going on in the world. But there are good things too.
Sometimes, we need to make a conscious effort to seek out the positive. There are many news outlets who focus their attention on making the world a brighter place by sharing stories of kindness. An example of this is Positive News UK on Twitter, who writes 'good journalism about good things'.
If our anxiety response does start to kick in, one thing we can do to control it is to self-soothe. We all have different methods that we find helpful when it comes to easing our anxiety. It could be doing exercise, taking a long bath or having a milky drink. Just do whatever gives you that feeling of peace.
If you know that you are particularly prone to anxiety, then come up with a self-soothing plan. Something that you can fall back on without too much thought. Alternatively, allow others to do it for you - find a relaxing podcast or a meditation app that you find particularly helpful.
Check out our previous blog post on 'Life hacks for maintaining a positive frame of mind' for some more ideas on how you can maintain a positive outlook on life.
Student Wellbeing Adviser - Faculty of Social Sciences