7 Things to do to cope with News Anxiety
News Anxiety- what is it?
News used to enter our homes as well as our minds on an invite-only basis. We chose to turn on the evening report, before returning our focus to our own lives. But since the rise of 24-hour news cycles in the 1990’s, the internet, and cell phones, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to switch off the constant stream of these headlines.
News reports can stir in us an array of emotions, from happiness, anger, fear, sadness, disgust, or even shame.
Social media and online news coverage often portray negative reports and stories. Negative news generates increased levels of cortisol in our bodies – our body’s main stress hormone. The build-up of cortisol in the body is quite harmful: it affects almost every organ we know, and results in weakened immunity, inability to sleep, altered mood, and so on.
Many of the clients I work with come to me with disturbed sleep patterns and poor concentration due to an information overload.
How to Manage “News Anxiety”?
1. Recognize your triggering topics and avoid them
When you are exposed to a distressing report that you can relate to personally, such as trauma you’ve experienced or a recent loss, it can heighten your stress level quickly. Learn to recognize those channels or outlets that cover a triggering topic: it might be smart to take a break from those digital news sources or skip them altogether. You can also choose to mute triggering words and phrases on certain social media platforms.
2. Limit your news consumption.
There has never been a time with a more colossal amount of information available at our fingertips with smartphone news apps and alerts. Although it might be important to have an interest in news and current social events, it might lead us to develop obsessive habits of news consumption that can be dangerous for our mental health. Learning to control our daily exposure to media is not only essential, it is a doable task. When I work with young adults, I find that practical tips that they can incorporate in their daily life are total game-changers: setting an alarm while watching news reports, accessing media only at the end of the day as a reinforcer to a successful productive day, and so on.
3. Choose how you respond to distressing news
Distressing news can be very upsetting and let’s face it, there are times when we can’t escape it. You can still decide how to respond and be proactive about your mental health. You could:
- Talk to a friend or your loved one about how you’re feeling. You could also talk to your therapist if you have one.
- Practice mindfulness, yoga or meditation to help reset your mind
- Decide to ‘take a break’ from your electronic devices altogether for some time, until you get back to your normal functioning.
4. Connect with the people that matter.
Feeling connected and supported are true antidotes for depression and mood changes. Human beings thrive on social connection. Sometimes, meeting up with a social support group once a week can do wonders for challenges such as social anxieties, loneliness and total disconnect.
5. Keep to a healthy self-care routine
Don’t underestimate the health benefits of scheduled sleeping, balanced eating, and exercise. Consistent self-care reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and decreases vulnerabilities. Your body is yours to keep for life. Take care of it. In their healing journeys, I teach my clients to learn how to rediscover their body and learn to treat it with the respect it deserves.
6. Filter your thoughts
One of the rules of the mind that I teach my clients in their rapid transformational therapy (RTT) journey with me is this: you get more of what you focus on. Your subconscious mind works in a way to translate anything and everything you think of into reality.
So start by challenging unhelpful thinking and putting your thoughts on trial. You could ask yourself: ‘why do I feel this way?’. Your thoughts are usually the number one culprit. You can learn not only to control them but techniques to switch them around to become more useful thoughts.
7. Reach out for professional help if everything else fails
If you are finding it difficult to limit not only the impact that news and media have on your life but the time you spend watching it as well, a mental health expert can equip you with tools that will stay with you for life and be more in control.
To learn more about skills that you can adopt let’s set a time to talk.