Perhaps watching the nightly news is a long-standing family ritual, or you start your day by skimming the local and national headlines. If so, you have probably noticed that in the last several years, the weight of those headlines has led to feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and even depression. Especially with gun violence on the rise and regular acts of terrorism, the news is more frightening and shocking than ever.
In my work as a therapist, clients often share that they feel overwhelmed and unable to process the state of these news stories. They often cite feeling helpless and powerless over the future and unable to comprehend the level of violence in the world.
Below you’ll find some strategies to help manage reactions of anxiety and depression that often accompany regularly reading and following of the news.
The intensity of some of the most recent news stories is so captivating that it’s easy to spend hours reading related articles, commentary, and expert opinions related to these current events. There is an never-ending desire to understand why people choose violence and the motives for some of the horrific acts that have been in the news, which can quickly become all-consuming. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole reading victims’ stories and survivors’ eyewitness accounts. Notice how you feel after reading the news. Do you feel closed off, worried, paranoid, sad, or anxious? Check in and reflect on how this activity affects your energy and make changes to limit your exposure accordingly.
Limiting intake is a simple, effective way way to reduce the intensity of your feelings and reactions to the news and media. Whether that be just allowing yourself to spend a certain number of minutes exposed to news each day or taking days off entirely and just checking once a week for top stories. It’s hard to break this addiction. You tell yourself that you want to be informed, that knowledge is power, yet make your wellbeing a top priority by limiting your exposure to news that can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Enhance your connection to self and others
When the news makes you feel hopeless and scared, it’s more important than ever to enhance your connections with others to help you feel less isolated in your experiences when viewing the media. Surrounding yourself with kind, supportive, empathetic, and understanding people can help you remember the good in the world and provide some necessary contrast from the neverending dismal news headlines. Spend time really connecting with friends, doing simple things like meeting for a cup of coffee or a walk, and talk openly about your fears around terrorism, school shootings, or nuclear war. Enhancing your connection to others is a form of self-care. Chances are you have plenty of shared feelings around the media and state of the world, and knowing you are not alone in your feelings can be a powerful realization in coping.
Do something positive
Oftentimes, you’ll be motivated to do something that helps the cause that most frightens you. Instead of coming from a place of panic and isolation, recognize that big changes start with small efforts. This might look like volunteering for aligned organizations, committees, or groups that are on a mission to shift violence or improve awareness. However, you might notice that being intimately involved in such groups might intensify your negative feelings related to situations in the news. If you find that being more involved is activating your anxiety and depression even more, consider donating financially to causes each month or using your network to build awareness rather than being directly involved in related missions to work toward solutions.
The team at Center for Shared Insight is available to support your healing when it comes to traumatic experiences, whether that be in the news or elsewhere. Our team of therapists can help you process intense feelings around such traumatic events and provide resources and strategies to support your understanding and healing. Contact us to learn more.