The world being now in a state of great turmoil, what with the Ukrainian situation and economic follow-up, no wonder people want to hear the news. While it’s perfectly understandable, devouring news, especially negative news, can become a kind of obsession and create an adverse effect. How to make a step toward staying informed instead of constantly consuming the news? How to cope with news anxiety?
Anxiety is something akin to stress, having a number of comparable symptoms. Stress is brought on by changes in the surroundings which can be construed as threatening; anxiety can exist without threats and is mostly an internal response to unpredictability. But the ongoing world situation can easily add fuel to both these conditions alike.
Why does news cause anxiety?
Human beings we are, we have limits as to what type of and how much stimulation we can be subjected to. Besides, with the situation evolving, our minds and souls don’t get the necessary time-out, but can only expect further escalation. It’s up to us to process the arriving information – although few of us have the necessary experience to cope with it. That means the process can have a negative impact on our health.
At times what we need to do (in spite of it being not easy to) is erase some stories and subsequent thoughts from our minds. When we feel that certain events and discussions are apt to aggravate our mental condition and blow our anxiety out of proportion, we must manage and control this.
Treating ourselves to healthy food and long sound sleep, we strengthen our physical health, but our mental health requires the same caring attitude to the news we learn – and maintaining a delicate balance between our desire to know and triggering anxious thoughts and misgivings.
Why and how exactly the anxiety generated by reading news can affect our bodily and psychological condition? We know that we are resilient enough to cope with some kinds of stress in certain doses, as well as we are aware that excessive stress and anxiety can lead to grave health problems. The autonomic nervous system can take a lot of pressure, cortisol and epinephrine, our “stress hormones,” can peak unhealthily.
News-caused worries and misgivings are sure to affect our amygdala — a pair of nuclei that play a major role in the functioning of senses and moods, arriving at decisions, and sorting out memories; also, they deal with fears and anxieties. Since news isn’t likely to become brighter any time soon, chances are there will be more stressors, our anxiety will get worse, and the response from the amygdala might go off the rails. Therefore, while drawn by the frightening headlines, bear in mind that we can aggravate our mental state and become beset by excitement and reactionary responses.
Still, there are ploys we can employ to keep news anxiety in control.
Try not to brood on what is beyond your control
With some people it is so easy to believe that an unpredictable turn of events can only end up in the worst thing happening. Still, there is no way we could alter the outcome, so we might as well cease doing it – and thereby manage our train of thoughts.
The only thing worthy of concentrating on is the thing we can influence
Do you feel media news bulletins are overwhelming and depressing? Stop getting too much of it. Ignore them periodically (you can always catch up on news later). If it doesn’t suit you, go for news at a special time without allowing yourself to read it as soon as it is brought up.
Read the text-only without paying attention to photos and videos
It’s natural for people who have relatives living in Ukraine or know someone there closely to keep track of what is going on. They should realize the fact that it makes them susceptible to bad news and tragic details. Your relatives and friends are not very likely to be present in photos and videos, so by watching video materials you may be working yourself up unnecessarily.
Think of an action
You may be unable to make a serious impact on the issue, but more often than not you can do something. It could be voting, participating in the relevant charity, or community events. The knowledge that you participated in will make you feel better.
Remain active socially
Once you have realized that your anxiety level is abnormally high, make a point of activating your social ties: contacting friends will distract you and/or give vent to your feelings. Workouts will help you not to bottle up excessive emotion.
Keep busy with other things
What is of primary importance in our life is how we relate to whatever is happening. The news will keep coming unchanged as the situation evolves; it’s we who decide on our personal level of involvement. We remain in perfect control of when and how much we get to hear the news. If it proves to weigh too heavily on our minds, getting us down, we can switch on to our current commitments not allowing us to immerse ourselves.
Here are some more great tips from a professional for those who are suffering from news anxiety:
As usual, advice can sound too easy to take in but too difficult to follow. Yet if you decide to persevere and proceed mindfully, fix your attention on other matters, you can diminish the impact of stressors and stay within the realm of the sensible.