When the news is overwhelming: Tips for coping with negative stories Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

Even as you acknowledge the importance of staying informed about the world around you, let’s be honest: sometimes the news can be depressing.

From the abundance of crime headlines, global tragedies, political tension, the pandemic and the list goes on- the news can trigger feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and even helplessness as we navigate the world each day.

If you’ve been feeling the weight of negative news recently, it might be a good idea to assess how you consume news content to create a sound balance between remaining informed while honouring your mental capacity.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Avoid reading the news as soon as you wake up

The alarm sounds and you roll out of bed, immediately checking your phone. Sounds familiar? You might want to reconsider your morning routine.

How you start your morning sets the tone for how your day goes.

Instead of opening your news app to peruse the stories of the day as soon as you roll out of bed, try spending a few moments in silence to check in with yourself instead.

Have a glass of water, do your daily stretches, have breakfast or even engage in reading something that isn’t news related- like a good fictional novel or a devotional.

Taking time for yourself in the morning can make all the difference in how you are able to cope as the day’s events begin.

Designate a specific time to consume news content

Once you’ve given yourself time to ease into your day, the next tip is to designate specific time slots in which you will get up to date with the news of the day.

Maybe that’s during your commute to work, a midday check-in or a wrap up early in the evening.

Decide which times are best for you based on your personal schedule or when you think you might be in the best mind frame to intake stories that might include less than pleasant subjects.

If you are currently experiencing anxiety related to your news consumption, it’s recommended that you log off a couple hours before your bedtime, to give your brain time to wind down.

Decide which times are best for you and try to stick to them as much as possible.

By training your mind to not be absorbed with news content for the entirety of your day, you maintain control over the level of impact the stories you read have on your overall frame of mind.

Depend on reliable news sources

The rise in social media popularity has led to amateur newsgathering that often is void of fact-checking. The end result? News stories that can irresponsibly cause panic without sound reason.

A 2020 report from the World Health Organization even coined a new term- “infodemic”- which it referred to as an overabundance of information” that is sometimes inaccurate.

“Proliferating misinformation — even when the content is, in a best-case scenario, harmless — can have serious and even social and lethal health ramifications in the context of a global pandemic,” says the WHO.

Using the early pandemic period as an example, it recalled: “In some countries, rumours about impending food scarcity prompted people to stockpile supplies early on in the epidemic and caused actual shortages. In the United States of America, a person passed away

from ingesting a fish tank cleaning product containing chloroquine after reports mentioned hydroxychloroquine as a possible – yet unproven – remedy for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Here at home, government agencies have, on several occasions, had to issue statements denouncing “fake news” often spread by mischief makers whose sole intent is to incite panic.

Journalists and by extension the bonafide news media outlets they work for, maintain and are bound to a stronger code of ethics not only in what they report but how they report sensitive news pieces.

Reading about stories that focus on difficult topics like child abuse, sexual assault or other forms of trauma-related violence, for example, can be extremely triggering if sensitive details are not handled with a level of care and professionalism that allows readers to understand the seriousness of the issue, without causing mental and emotional harm.

Seek out the positive

The prevalence of negative news can feel like a plague and can invoke strong pessimism if we aren’t careful.

Balance your consumption of news media by being intentional about seeking out positive, uplifting stories to inspire some hope about the world around you.

Log out when you have to

Sometimes, the best way to maintain our mental health is by knowing when it’s time to take a break and unplug- for how long is dependent on you.

Maintaining a conscious media diet can help to reduce stress, and can return time for you to observe the world around you in real time, through your own lens.