Article by: Kelly Malloy
Australia in particular has been hit with extraordinary news and events for the past four months with the drought; being replaced with the two months of news covering the devastating bushfires; being replaced by some regions experiencing flash-flooding and now we all have to buckle up as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) does a full headline take-over as the world tries to contain what has now been listed as a pandemic.
That is a LOT to take in with no real time for anyone to come up for air.
While it is normal to be concerned, emotionally affected and moved by events that are both sensational in destruction and unprecedented for communities to experience, for some the concern can turn into an anxiety and a feeling of utter helplessness that can begin to overwhelm and take over everyday thoughts and interactions.
If this is you, you are not alone and there are ways that you can manage to be informed without being overwhelmed.
Here's some tips on ways that may help subdue those spikes of anxiety when the news gets too much:
Choose one news source and stick to it:
Sometimes for our jobs or lifestyle, we actually do need to be aware about the big events and issues that are happening so it's difficult to switch off completely. If you do need to keep informed, just choose one news source, agency or platform and make that the only place you go for your news hit (try and make it one that is somewhat credible!).
You can go a step further and give yourself time restrictions on how often you check the News and how long you spend your time reading it. When you do check the News, perhaps try allocating yourself ten-minute block each day which will make you aware on what you are spending your time reading but also potentially make you read only those news stories that are actually important. And ask yourself before you click on the article, 'is this information necessary or just sensational?'
Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative:
Believe it or not, there are actually good news stories happening around the world and even in your own community! Unfortunately those are the ones that are least likely to grab the headlines so you do have to go looking for them. If all of the news you are reading is confronting and depressing, give your mind a break and search for the feel good stuff.
Do a google search or hashtag search of 'good news stories' or even 'happy news' and be prepared to open up a world of positivity and hope, which is something we ALL need to be reminded of from time to time.
Ask yourself "Can I personally solve this issue?"
When our screens were filled with footage of bushfires wiping out areas the sizes of countries, most of us felt upset, overwhelmed and helpless - all understandable. The people that were living it on the ground and not through the news updates, have an entirely different perspective and coping strategy that only those that were there would understand.
This feeling of helplessness watching all the news come through from the safety of our home, can be best represented with the huge amount of money that was donated to different initiatives for those that were affected (Exhibit A: Celeste Barber!) This was an acceptance that whilst we could not individually solve the catastrophe that spanned over months, we could help in some way.
So don't take the weight of the world on your shoulders. If you are not personally responsible for the issue and it's upsetting you, assess the measures you can personally take to look after yourself and your immediate community. Or, find an organisation or group that maybe you can extend an offer of help to.
And then let yourself off the hook!
The added bonus is that helping, volunteering and donating releases those little happy hormones. Even if it's just a little burst, a sense of purpose and contribution is a powerful emotional gift that you will also be giving yourself. Once you've done these things, stop beating yourself up and just focus on the relevant stuff.
Just turn it all off!
Sounds pretty obvious but it is actually a little bit trickier to implement since the News is no longer just the 6pm bulletin that you have to turn the TV on to watch. The news, good or bad, true or clickbait - does tend to follow us wherever there is a screen linked up to the internet. News will creep in through social media and it doesn't help that Google understands your viewing patterns and will also throw up suggestions of somewhat sensational headlines.
If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed the best way is to go completely cold turkey and just remove yourself entirely from the information that is causing you to get distressed.
If those headlines do trickle through, be kind and true to yourself and don't click the link - especially if you are scrolling through your social feeds at 2am!
With our 24/7 access to News whenever we want, it has given us all unprecedented access to an excessive about of information that our minds just can't process all at once!
Take notice at how you read and source News and events as a form of self-care and put a strategy in place to look after yourself if you are not coping. Just like you would rest tired legs after a marathon, allow your mind the same luxury with this marathon of huge News stories and events.
You'll be amazed how the News that is relevant to you and that you really do need to hear, will find you - through your friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours, team mates, etc.
Remember, nothing bad will happen if you don't watch the News! Just look after yourself.