The past couple of months have been awful, in terms of what I have been seeing in my newsfeed – storms Ciara and Dennis, flooding throughout the UK, Brexit, Megxit, coverage of the Weinstein trial, the sudden death of Caroline Flack and the Coronavirus amongst others. I’ve been thinking a lot about the mental health impact of a steady stream of ‘Bad News’. Many of us deal with mental health challenges on a daily basis and being fed a steady diet of devastating world events only serves to make that harder. Here are a few strategies that will help avoid being completely overwhelmed by your newsfeed.
Recognise that there is a difference between being immersed and being informed
You don’t have to be plugged into your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook feed 24/7. Give yourself permission to take breaks and aim for a balanced media diet. Don’t just focus on the really bad news, gravitate towards the good news also.
Stick to your usual routines as much as possible
Humans are creatures of habit and we find comfort in the familiar. Make sure that you are giving your body what it needs to function at its best: healthy food, hydration, regular physical activity, time for fun, and adequate sleep.
Look for opportunities to ‘take action’
It doesn’t need to be something big (it’s likely to feel less overwhelming if it’s not). But taking positive action, however small (writing a letter, making a donation), you will be engaging the rational-logical part of your brain. This will help to slow down what could quickly escalate into feelings of anxiety and sadness. Feeling powerless fuels anxiety, whereby taking action can prevent it or at least slow it down.
Allow yourself to feel
Try not to avoid or suppress painful emotions (nor dwell on them which can result in you feeling less equipped to problem solve or connect with others). Remind yourself that feelings come and feelings go and you are not your feelings.
Maintain your sense of optimism
Focus on what you can control as opposed to fixating on what you can’t. You’ll find it easier to make this mental mind-shift if you make a conscious effort to boost your level of positive emotion by doing things you enjoy and spending time with people you love.
Reach out to others who share your concern about what’s happening in the world. Seek professional help if you feel that you need extra support. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s self-preservation. With all the doom and gloom surrounding us, it’s more important than ever that you need to take good care of yourself right now.