How to Cope with Today's News
As the saying goes, “don’t worry, be happy.” However, executing this stress-free mentality is easier said than done. We know it can be difficult to escape the negative opinions circulating on social media and in the endless 24-hour news cycle, but it is important to keep your mental health in mind and realize when it’s time to take a step back from consuming online content.
A key sign you need to step back is when you are feeling an increase in stress and anxiety. It is also important to know how to address these negative feelings, rather than suppress them. Here are a few tips to help you stay positive and decrease stress when times are tough:
- Focus on What Makes YOU Happy
Start and end the day by doing something you love and distance yourself from the negative things going on in the world. This means turning off the news and closing out of Facebook to take a run or walk, listening to an uplifting podcast, playing with your children and/or your pets – whatever makes you smile. Keep that feeling in mind and strive to do it more often.
- Stop Catastrophizing
How we digest the news determines how we feel overall, especially in regards to our mental health. We shouldn’t dismiss what’s happening, but we shouldn’t convince ourselves that it is the end of the world either. It is important to realize what is and what isn’t in our control, and try to focus on what you can do to help the situation rather than dwell on the negative.
- Channel Negative Feelings into Positive Actions
Watching the news might leave us feeling powerless, vulnerable and uncertain of the future. However, one way to aid these feelings is if you don’t like what you see, try and fix it – write a letter to your member of congress, volunteer, wash your hands for 20 seconds. Small actions in bulk can have a big impact.
- Look at The Bright Side
In difficult times, sometimes we deprive ourselves of happiness because we feel unified with others in sadness. However, we must remind ourselves that the power of optimism is underrated and fear/pain is temporary. Ultimately, our outlook on life will determine how we feel. With this in mind, find joy in the small things in front of you and look forward to the good on the horizon, because your happiness can spark joy in others.
- ‘Headline stress disorder’
In a piece from The Washington Post, therapist Steven Stosny, Ph.D. explains that news cycles trigger intense feelings of worry and helplessness, particularly in women. While staying informed is important, it can fog our mental state and takes us down a dark rabbit hole. This is why it is important to set time limits to stay informed while not overdoing it.
Exercise is also a great way to cope with stress. Make sure you get your body moving regularly, as exercise is shown to boost your mood by releasing endorphins and can also lower your blood pressure.