When you turn on the TV news, the world can seem like a scary place. Violence and war rage in countries around the world. Some commentators and political figures even claim the same could happen here. It doesn’t take much exposure to world news to feel like your anxiety is being cranked up to record levels. But you don’t have to live in fear. Here’s how to cope with the news and keep your cool.
Don’t Completely Avoid All News
There’s a difference between being informed about what’s happening in the world and knowing every minute detail. You can still get an overview of current events without knowing the little details that create the perfect set-up for being overwhelmed. The amount of information you can handle varies for everyone. You shouldn’t expose yourself to more than you can handle, but you don’t have to hide, either. Complete avoidance can exacerbate anxiety as well.
Set Boundaries for Yourself
Give yourself permission to back away from conversations that make you uncomfortable. It’s okay to leave the break room if your coworkers are going on about bombings or school shootings in graphic detail. You don’t have to participate in conversations if you’re not interested. If someone brings up unpleasant subjects, you can redirect the discussion to less disturbing topics.
Keep Your Focus on the Positive
Your focus can strongly influence how you feel. If you watch the 24-hour cable news cycle, you can easily get the idea that the world is a terrible place. Balance your perspective with a focus on the many good things that are happening in the world. Check out websites like the Good News Network if you’re having trouble finding more positive news stories.
Draw Near to Loved Ones
Friends and family can be great resources to help you cheer up. Make the effort to regularly spend time with your loved ones, especially when the world feels heavy and dark. Spending time with people you care about can take your mind off the bad things happening in the world for a while.
The rest of the world has their own problems. You can’t do much to directly help people thousands of miles away. But you can help people in your own community. Get involved in a cause that’s dear to your heart. The causes in your community need your money and your time. You can make a real difference close to home.
Put the Problems into Perspective
There’s no question that tragedies like famines and suicide bombings are sad events wherever they happen. But it’s also important to keep your life in perspective. You can simultaneously feel grateful for your relatively comfortable life and feel compassion for those in harm’s way. Remember that scary events aren’t happening in your backyard and most likely never will.
Practice Healthy Self-Care
It’s more important than ever to take good care of yourself. Bad habits like skipping exercise, eating poorly or skimping on sleep will make it harder to cope with stressful news in the world. Go for a walk, nourish your body with healthy foods, and go to bed a bit earlier. Make time for other self-care practices like writing in a journal or taking care of your spirit through meditation or prayer.
Go on a Media Fast
You have a lot of control over how much bad news you see. Since most of us live in safe neighborhoods, the troubles of the world are far from our doorsteps. That means that we can elect to avoid much of the bad news if we so choose. The number one way to limit your exposure: turn off the news. Take a break from checking social media.
We can’t control what happens in the world. It can seem like nothing but bad things are happening all around us. Challenge those thoughts, focusing on the good things in your life and community. It can help ease a lot of your anxiety.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to take a step toward dealing with your anxiety, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT