If you get anxiety from the news, you are not alone. Here are 3 tips to help you stay informed about world events without getting too anxious.
I’m writing this post now because recently, the war in Ukraine has caused a spike in stress and anxiety for virtually everyone I’m talking to, both professionally and personally. And don’t forget that we are all coping with the collective trauma of the pandemic.
People are overwhelmed, and it makes sense.
If you are already coping with anxiety and/or depression, the stress of the news can tip the scales in the direction of increased fear and overwhelm.
Being informed about the world is part of what makes you an empathic, curious person. Cutting off your knowledge about what is happening to your fellow humans can cause increased isolation and helplessness. However, it’s no secret that doom scrolling can take a toll on your mental health.
So, it becomes an issue of balance.
Below are three quick tips to find a balance if you are experiencing anxiety from the news.
1. Set limits for news exposure to decrease your anxiety.
It’s not selfish to step away from the constant news cycle. Taking care of yourself is foundational for managing anxiety. Also, there are still things in your daily life that require your care and attention, regardless of world events.
The limits you set will be as unique as you are, although one hour per day is generally sufficient. Some people find that spending 15-minutes checking news on their phone each day keeps them in the loop and decreases their anxiety. But other people find it rewarding to read lengthy articles, and might spend an hour per day reading news. One of my family members watches 30 minutes of news per day on TV, and turns off all news notifications on her phone, to help maintain her balance.
Tips to set limits on news, to help decrease your anxiety
Make the limits easier to follow by setting up a system. Some ideas to incorporate into your system:
2. Find ways to help others to decrease your anxiety.
The helplessness that accompanies stressful news can contribute to anxiety. And we are, indeed, helpless about a lot of what’s going on around us. (How much can I affect Russian troop movements in Ukraine? Frustratingly little, it turns out.)
Ask yourself the question, “What can I control here?” You may be in a position to make a financial contribution to an organization, for example, or check in with a friend who has family in Ukraine. Other ideas besides writing a check: volunteer, sign a petition, call or email your elected representative, attend a march or protest.
However small your contribution might feel to you, remember that it makes more difference than doing nothing. The collective effort of many individuals shapes history.
3. Refocus towards caring for yourself, and away from more news.
Remember, you are focusing on what you can control. Enact your anxiety-management tools to help “mop up” lingering anxiety. For example, trade some time spent reading news for walking outside or reading something funny. If you like to cook or bake, plan and prepare a favorite dish. It won’t affect the news for better or worse, but it will help you.
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