This past week has been brutal, especially in terms of devastating imagery & stories populating our newsfeeds due to the unthinkable tragedies happening all over the world – from hurricanes to domestic terrorism. We’re being hit hard. From every angle imaginable.
In light of mental health day, we’ve been thinking a lot about the mental health impact of a steady avalanche of devastating news. Many of us face mental health challenges on a daily basis, and being hand fed devastating world events real time on social media only serves to make that harder.
So, we’ve sought out some strategies to avoid being crushed by the never-ending stream of depressing news flooding your newsfeed right now.
Stick to your usual routines as much as possible
We, humans, are creatures of habit, finding comfort in routine and familiarity. In times of heightened stress, sticking to a regular diet of healthy food, regular physical activity, time for fun, and adequate sleep, will help alleviate some of the sadness brought on by external factors.
Recognize the difference between being immersed and being informed
Sure, you want to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be plugged into your Twitter or Facebook feed 24/7. Give yourself permission to take breaks. Don’t just focus on the really bad news. Gravitate toward the good, too. Most importantly, be self-aware enough to put yourself on a social media diet when you feel you’ve crossed the line from being informed to being immersed.
Look for opportunities to take action
It doesn’t have to be something huge. Frankly, it will feel a whole lot less overwhelming if it’s not. But by carrying through on sort of positive action, however small (writing a letter, making a donation, attending a face-to-face get-together in your town), you’ll be engaging the rational-logical part of your brain. And that will help to put the brakes on what can otherwise quickly escalate into paralyzing feelings of anxiety and sadness. Feeling powerless fuels anxiety; taking action brings it down.
Allow yourself to feel all the feelings
Allow painful emotions to flow through you rather than avoiding them or dwelling on them (which ties up cognitive resources, leaving you less equipped to solve problems or connect with other people). Remind yourself that feelings come and feelings go — and you are not your feelings.
Maintain your sense of optimism
Focus on what you can control as opposed to fixating on what you can’t. You’ll find it easier to make this mental mind-shift if you make a conscious effort to boost your level of positive emotion by doing things you enjoy and spending time with people you love. Positive emotions leave the door open to possibility while negative emotions slam the door shut. You want to keep the door open right now.
Talk to your children
Address their fears and spark their compassion. Do everything in your power to nurture their caring and to encourage them to dream of a better world. Then support their dreams. They offer the best path forward for our deeply troubled world.
Reach out — don’t crumble inward
Connect with others who share your concern about what’s happening in our country and our world. Talk to other people you know who may be going through an especially difficult time right now — especially members of vulnerable or marginalized communities. Let them know that you will be there to support them and that you care. Smile at strangers. (Assume their good intentions unless proven otherwise.) Look for opportunities to build bridges, not walls. Finally, reach out for additional support if you feel like you’re really struggling. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s self-preservation. You need to take extra good care of yourself right now.
The truth is, most of us have a tendency to battle varying degrees of depression brought on by the inundation of terrible news via social media. If you found this article helpful, please share with friends and family who may also benefit from these tips by clicking the button below.