If the News Is Bringing You Down, Here’s Your Action Plan
Leigh Weingus •
There’s no doubt about it: Things feel extraordinarily heavy right now. While there’s a lot of optimism around the COVID-19 pandemic (finally!), the outlets that many of us turn to to stay informed — specific news outlets, podcasts, radio stations, social media, the list goes on — are delivering a constant stream of devastating news.
While it’s important to stay informed, if all of this bad news is bringing you down, there’s a lot you can do to stay sane without tuning out the tragedy that’s happening in Europe right now. Start with these tips.
Get your news from just one source
You’ve probably heard the term “doomscrolling,” right? Basically, this term is used to describe our (admittedly destructive) instinct to binge negative news. When we do this, we’re essentially consuming as much negative news as possible via news outlets, podcasts, social media, and more. To stop yourself from falling into this hole, pick just one reliable source where you get your news, and set a limit around it. For example, maybe you scan the top headlines in the morning, read one or two articles, and then call it a day. While this will take some self-control, it will be worth it.
Have a friend update you on what’s going on
Ask someone in your life if they’d be up for giving you a little news briefing each day. When you get your news from a friend, family member, or acquaintance, it’s harder to go down a news rabbit hole. Of course, you have to have someone in your life who is willing to do this for you (and hopefully they’re able to consume their news in a healthy way!) but it can be a great option.
Focusing on self-care might feel unfair at a time like this, but we’re here to remind you of something very important: Self-care is not selfish. As the airplane safety message goes, “secure your own oxygen mask first.” When you do this, you’re better able to consume the news in a healthy way and put your energy toward helping. So journal, meditate, get enough exercise, eat healthy food, light a candle, read a book, knit, the list goes on. You know what proper self-care looks like for you, so make it happen.
Mental health experts often say that action is the antidote to anxiety, so try taking action. There are plenty of organizations that are working hard to help Ukrainian refugees (this site lists 28 ways you can help), and some people are actually renting out Airbnbs to help house refugees.
Sleep is incredibly important. While the Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours per night, many of us are getting less. When we’re sleep-deprived, we experience higher levels of anxiety, depression, and so many other negative side effects. Being tired can also make it harder to exert self-control over how and when you consume the news, and can make things feel even more catastrophic than they are. So do yourself a favor and clock those hours.
Remove new and social media apps from your phone
If you’re having a hard time exercising any self-control around news consumption, make it so that accessing the news isn’t an option. Maybe you download news or social media apps every day (or once every few days), check them, and then delete them. Or, if you have a friend who’s willing to give you a daily or weekly news download, you may not need to re-download those apps at all. You can also think of this is a temporary solution: The news is devastating right now, but it will eventually lighten up, at which point you can give yourself easier access to it.
Talk to a mental health expert
Talking to a mental health expert is always a good idea, but especially right now. We’re coming off of two years that turned our lives completely upside down, and now we’re dealing with a constant stream of sad news. Therapists are trained to help people cope with these issues, so utilize an online therapy platform like Talkspace or Better Help, or call your primary care doctor to see if they can provide a referral.
Remember, if you're having a hard time coping with the news right now, that's OK — most of us are feeling like this right now. And luckily, there's a lot you can do to start to feel better.Next, here’s everything you need to know about habit stacking.