The year 2023 has proven to be extraordinary, although not in a positive light. Instead, it's characterized by nonstop negative news that leaves us drained, mentally and physically. It's as if we've gone from reading about sea monsters and aliens in tabloids to witnessing such headlines becoming a regular occurrence. The pandemic, which traumatized the globe, was just the beginning of a tumultuous journey.
After the discovery of the virus, our lives became filled with news of adversities. Violent wars, fatal floods, earthquakes, hate crimes, widespread illnesses, weather climates, and even aliens are part of our regular news. Nothing is surprising anymore, just sad. With just over two months remaining, the future remains more uncertain than ever.
These endless distressing stories are mentally and emotionally draining. It's essential to acknowledge the toll this takes on our mental and physical well-being and prioritize self-care.
The signs of news-induced stress can be subtle, but they are critical to recognize in ourselves and others. Some of the signs to look for include:
Shock and numbness
Anxiety, worry, and panic
Physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches
Sadness and depression
Jumpiness and hypervigilance
Rumination and intrusive images
Changes in appetite
If you, or someone you know, exhibit these signs, it's a clear indication that a break is necessary. Taking a break doesn't imply indifference or apathy towards the world's challenges; it means recognizing the need to process and protect your own well-being.
Here are some strategies to alleviate news-induced stress and foster self-care:
Understand It's Normal: Acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed by negative news is a normal reaction to the world's events.
Take Control of Your Media Exposure: Set limits on the time you spend consuming news, and adhere to a schedule.
Tailor Your Social Media Feeds: Customize your social media content to include positive and informative posts.
Incorporate Positive News: Balance your news diet by seeking out positive stories and solutions-oriented reporting.
Turn Off Notifications: Disable unnecessary news notifications on your devices to reduce interruptions.
No News 1 Hour Before Bed: Avoid news consumption close to bedtime to promote better sleep.
Check on Your Feelings: Regularly assess your emotional state and act on signs of stress and anxiety.
Digital Detox: Take breaks from screens and digital devices to disconnect from the news cycle.
Breathing Techniques: Use breathing techniques like the physiological sigh to alleviate stress and anxiety immediately.
Incorporate Stress Relief Activities: Engage in mindfulness meditation, exercise, walking, or yoga to manage stress.
Grounding Techniques: Practice grounding to anchor yourself in the present moment.
Know Your Triggers: Identify specific news topics or sources that trigger your stress, and limit exposure to them.
Practice Healthy Self-Care: Maintain your daily routines, eat well, and get enough sleep.
Talk to a Professional: Seek help from a mental health professional if news-induced stress persists and affects your daily life.
Discuss Feelings with a Supportive Friend: Open up to a trusted friend who can provide emotional support. As if they have the emotional capacity, as everyone is processing their feelings and emotions differently.
While we can't change the world's tragedies or the news around us, we have the power to change our reaction and how we cope with the stress. Nurturing your mental and physical well-being is not only a form of self-care but also a necessity in navigating the tragic news cycle of 2023. Take the time to prioritize your well-being. You deserve it!