The worse the news, the harder it is to ignore, and this spring, while the entire world is coping with the impact of COVID-19, the onslaught of difficult news can feel overwhelming.
When we feel uncertain and unsafe, more information can often look like relief.
But if that info doesn’t help, we can end up chasing relief that never comes.
If you’re glued to your screen and suffering, here are four steps to protect yourself from the spiral:
Know your stress signals
When the threats to our health and happiness are distant or uncertain, our own vigilance can wear us down and leave us feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted.
How do you feel when you’re reading the news?
When you read more and more?
Are you processing the content, or racing ahead?
Can you feel the room around you, or are you lost in it?
Do you feel calm and rational, or gross, weary, or under siege?
Are your muscles tense?
Your jaw, your hands, your shoulders tight?
What are your top 3 stress signals? Call them out.
They’re key to knowing when you’re overwhelmed and need help.
Step back or step away
When your stress signals show up, take ten seconds to pause and disengage.
Put your phone down. Turn off the tv or radio.
Ask yourself: what am I trying to do here? and is this helping?
If you’re consuming news without a clear purpose or finding that the news isn’t meeting your needs, you’re often better off stopping and stepping away.
If you step back and find that the news is the right focus for your attention, asking these questions will help keep the active, protective parts of you online to manage your stress.
Make a good headline for yourself
When you turn away from the news, if you can take one concrete step that makes your life better, it will pay dividends.
If that means taking action to address what’s at stake in the world, great, but holding yourself to that standard can often be paralyzing.
Doing the dishes can help. Texting a friend. Taking a shower. Making a meal.
These things matter, they are positive steps, and they can help reset your perspective from the global and the overwhelming to the local and actionable.
To what’s best under your control. This is part of the news of your life.
The good news, however modest.
Turn towards help
If you find yourself struggling to keep the news at a healthy distance or in a good perspective, it may be a good time to look for help from others.
Evergreen Counseling has expert therapists available with deep experience in recognizing and treating anxiety, depression, and compulsive relief-seeking behaviors.
We work to help those struggling with worry and overwhelm gain the tools and perspective necessary to help themselves live a happier life.
If you’re interested in getting help today, please visit our contact page to connect with us.
– Peter Adams, LMFT