HOW TO MANAGE ANXIETY AND STRESS IN AN OVERWHELMING NEWS ENVIRONMENT

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HOW TO MANAGE ANXIETY AND STRESS IN AN OVERWHELMING NEWS ENVIRONMENT

by | May 30, 2023

“You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.”–Wayne Dyer

Travel back in time with me…

to a day when smartphones didn’t exist, there was no Google to instantly provide answers, and it took minutes(not seconds) for the average web page to load.

This was 1994 just a few months after OJ’s infamous car chase and before the emergence of 24-hour hyper-news coverage, constant connectivity and information overload. On this day, I turned on the television to a horrific news story that shook me to my core. I’m not going to share the details of this particular story because they’re not important, and the exposure to this kind of information is precisely what I will be urging you to limit in this post. It’s sufficient to know that the news coverage brought me to tears and infected my day and subsequent days, as the story continued to unfold and be replayed relentlessly, with fear, stress, anxiety and depression. And for what purpose? Was it for the sake of being better informed? Did the constant consumption of distressing news enhance my understanding of the world or contribute positively to my well-being?

30 days tv free…

I’m recounting this story because it led me to an experiment. I embarked on a 30-day television detox and the results were eye-opening for me. Although I continued to read the news on good old-fashioned printing press paper(oh my, those were the days), I made a conscious decision to limit my exposure to distressing details. My depressed and anxious mood began to lift substantially. Of course, the horrific story and other similar ones were covered there as well, but I chose to limit my exposure to the details and to read the news that would keep me informed.

Don’t get me wrong, the “news that would keep me informed” was also often stress-inducing, but the choice of the medium and the extent of receiving the news resulted in a calmer me, for the life of this experiment at least.

In today’s interconnected world, where news is even more readily available at our fingertips than it was in 1994, it’s easy to fall into the trap of constant exposure. We carry smartphones that deliver news updates in real-time, and social media bombards us with headlines, images, videos and opinions, often sensationalizing negative events. We find ourselves scrolling endlessly, feeling a compulsive need to stay up to date with every breaking news story.

But is this relentless pursuit of information actually serving us well…

Is it helping us to be better informed, or is it, in fact, exacerbating our anxieties and taking a toll on our mental health? Is it possible to find a balance? Can we set boundaries on our news consumption and consciously decide when and how we engage with current events?

While staying informed is undoubtedly crucial, constant exposure to distressing news can have a significant impact on our well-being. It’s essential to prioritize our mental health and establish limits on the amount and frequency of news and “news opinion” that we consume. This need is heightened by our exposure to what we now call “fake news” which makes it increasingly challenging to distinguish fact from fiction.

Prioritize your mental health…

By designating specific times and sources for news updates, we can regain control over our information intake. Opting for trusted news outlets and curated updates, such as email newsletters or daily briefings, can provide a more balanced and less overwhelming perspective.

It’s also important to be mindful of our social media habits. Endlessly scrolling through platforms that tend to magnify negative content only serves to amplify our anxieties. Instead, we can try to redirect our focus towards activities that bring us joy such as engaging in hobbies and spending quality time with friends and family.

Ultimately, the purpose of limiting our exposure to distressing news is to protect our mental and emotional well-being. We deserve moments of respite from the constant bombardment of negative information. By setting boundaries, we empower ourselves to cultivate a sense of calm and regain control over our emotions, even in the midst of a chaotic world around us.

It’s nearly impossible to shield ourselves from the barrage of news and information about global events. From political upheavals and environmental crises to economic uncertainties to personal tragedies, these developments can often trigger anxiety and stress within us. However, it’s important to remember that while we can’t control the world at large, we do have the power to manage our reactions to it.

Let’s examine 6 effective strategies to help reduce anxiety and stress in the face of unsettling world events.

The First And Most Obvious: Limit “News” Consumption…

While staying informed is crucial, constant exposure to distressing news can exacerbate anxiety. Set boundaries on your news consumption by designating specific times and sources for updates. Avoid scrolling through social media endlessly, as it tends to magnify negative content. Opt for trusted news outlets and consider subscribing to email newsletters or daily briefings to receive curated updates instead. I have been enjoying Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper. Spend a little time finding your own trusted sources.

Practice Self-Care…

Remember self-care is not selfish!!!

Nurturing your mental and emotional well-being is vital during times of heightened stress. Engage in activities that promote self-care, such as regular exercise, meditation, or deep breathing. Prioritize restful sleep, maintain a balanced diet, and incorporate hobbies or activities that bring you joy. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish; it equips you with the resilience to face challenging times.

Cultivate Mindfulness…

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment without judgment. Engaging in mindfulness techniques can help you regain a sense of control over your thoughts and emotions. Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your daily routine, such as mindful breathing, body scans, or guided meditations. These practices foster self-awareness and help to redirect anxious thoughts. Consider trying a meditation app such as Headspace, Calm or Insight Timer.

Find Support…

Don’t underestimate the power of social connections. Share your concerns with trusted friends or family members who can provide a listening ear and emotional support. Engage in open conversations about your anxieties and worries, validating your feelings and realizing that you’re not alone. Also consider seeking professional help from therapists or counselors who specialize in anxiety and stress management.

Engage in Positive Action…

Engage in positive action within your sphere of influence. Participate in local community initiatives, volunteer for causes you care about, or donate to reputable organizations that work towards creating positive change. By taking action, you channel your energy into something constructive and empower yourself to make a difference.

Establish Boundaries…

Set healthy boundaries to protect your mental well-being. Recognize when discussions or conversations about world events become overwhelming, and gracefully excuse yourself from such interactions. It’s okay to prioritize your mental health and distance yourself from situations that heighten your anxiety. Redirect your focus towards activities that bring you peace and help you regain a sense of equilibrium.

In a world where we are constantly exposed to “news” and opinions, managing anxiety and stress becomes essential for maintaining our mental well-being. By implementing these strategies, you can regain control over your emotions and reduce anxiety amidst global uncertainties. Remember, you have the power to foster a sense of calm within yourself, even in the midst of a chaotic world. Be Brave!

Check out these recent blog posts from Chasing Beans…

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