How to Support Your Wellbeing in the Face of Negative News Cycles

Are the news reports and headlines getting you down?

Are you reading Facebook posts and feeling angry or discouraged?

Perhaps you feel like  unplugging completely from the current events?

When alarming headlines are only a notification away, it’s easy to feel like the world is falling apart in front of you. Getting deeply invested in negative news can tax your mental health and lead to anxiety and depression, which is why understanding its impacts on your psychological health is so important.

The Impacts of Anxiety on Your Mental Health

Following the news can be depressing or agitating. What’s equally important is acknowledging the impact these negative stories have on your daily life.

According to many psychologists, overexposure to gloomy stories can significantly alter your mood and neural chemistry, making you more likely to develop stress, mental fatigue, depression, and even a sense that your personal life is spinning out of control.

If you have any history of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) you may have an exaggerated reaction.  A 2001 study found that some people who simply watched news coverage on 9/11 had PTSD-like symptoms emerge.

What can you do?

  1. Watch the News with Intention, Observe your reactions, Stay Connected to That Still Calm Center Inside.

Notice the difference between pain and suffering.   We can’t avoid pain.   When we fight painful events, or in this case disturbing news, we suffer.   It is natural to feel like fighting against the facts: “This should not have happened,” our suffering minds cry out.

As Byron Katie says “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”

Seeing the facts, seeing “what is” does not mean we condone things.   It somehow feels like outrage or suffering over “what is” offers some measure of resistance. When we watch disturbing news, we may want to fight or feel anxious or go numb with helplessness.  We may tell ourselves the world is a terrible place, and forecast catastrophe.  In this state, we become victims of the news.

When you feel that way, take a moment to look around.

  • Notice “what is,” right where you are. Name some of the things you see.
  • Ask yourself, “Am I safe right now?” There are only 2 possible answers: yes or no.  You may not feel   But notice the difference between feeling and “what is” right now.
  • Maybe look around again and see the things around you that signal that you are safe, in this moment.
  • Then notice how your body responds when you slip back into this present moment. You might find a little breath comes in and you settle a bit.

It takes a little extra intention to see “what is.” Wait for a moment.  Notice your internal reactions and let them settle a bit.  Then decide how to respond.  Once we make this decision, we may discover meaningful actions or responses that had not occurred to us in the flood of emotion.

The Positive News Network has many examples of people who faced painful realities and events.  Then after the grief and sadness and rage, found ways to make meaningful changes.

“I love what I think, and I’m never tempted to believe it.”   Byron Katie

  1. Find Ways to Detach

Take charge of your emotional well-being by knowing when to distance yourself. Turn off the TV.   Power down your cell phone.   Spend time with your family or pets.   Read books, sleep, meditate, feel your feet on the ground.  Or better yet, take a short stroll, and experience the natural world.  Look around you.   Breathe in a little fresh air.  And notice how your body responds.

  1. Set Boundaries with your Technology!

Take control over your social media newsfeeds. Negative news is more readily shared than good news, so you’re likely to see more of it. When you have a very strong emotional reaction, that’s a signal to do a fact check.  Sensationalism sells.  Practice resistance by find the facts.  Don’t be afraid to cut off internet contact with people or organizations that are adding to your stress levels.  Check out the Positive News Network to find out how ordinary people are making meaningful changes.

Want Help? Contact Counseling Services of Portland

If negative news is triggering anxiety or depression that you can’t seem to pull out of, give us a call.   We will help you make sense out of your concerns for the world today, and help you find ease and meaningful responses so you are not a victim of the news.

Why suffer needlessly? Give us a call, text or email us.  We love what we do and you may be surprised to find that you may not just feel better, but you might get better.