The news. It’s funny, in the past I have heard the name is an acronym that stands for “Notable Events, Weather, and Sports”, hence “the news” but the more I watch it, I begin to wonder if the name truly stands for “Negative Energy We Spread.” Regardless of your perception of how the name “the news” came to be, the truth of the matter is “the news” has a way of bringing down our energy as we are continually made aware of the happenings of the world which unfortunately, are usually negative. What is worse is that as much as you may try to avoid news channels, often news information will make it to your social media news feeds as it is reposted by others.
“So, Katrina, I find the news is completely bringing my mood down. I do not know how to escape it. What do I do?”
Good question! So, one thing we have to recognize is we have NO WAY of controlling the events that happen in the world around us. Trust me, I wish I could tell you we did but we truly do not. Bummer, right? Definitely. What I can tell you is that you are ABSOLUTELY in control of how you decide to manage your exposure to this as well as what we do in response to these situations. This is often a very tough concept to embrace but once a person accepts it, the next steps are far easier to do.
“Alright Katrina, you are right I have no control over anything outside of myself, but I still am affected by it. What do I do?”
Yes, it is true that we simply can’t shut off our feelings and the news can/will still affect us in some way. Despite this, there are some major things you can do to help yourself and better your emotional well-being when dealing with the news. Let’s take a look at a few steps/techniques you can utilize to help yourself when the emotions of the news just become too much.
- Set Time Limits – Although it is important to know about things that may be impacting our day to day lives, it is NOT necessary to watch the news from start to finish. Many news channels offer the “top stories” at the beginning of the hour or have a period where they do a brief overview of their top stories. Another option for everyone is the use of our dear friend, the internet. When listening to the news becomes too overwhelming but you are concerned you are missing out on important information, it is recommended to utilize your local news channels webpage as the top stories will be noted by title and this gives you an option on deciding whether you feel the information is pertinent to what you need at the present time. Additionally, if you do not see anything that applies to your situation or nothing you feel is imperative for you to know, you can easily click out of the webpage and reduce the concern that you will hear information that you were not in a place to manage.
- Boundaries with Others – When consumed by negativity as it pertains to world’s events, it is okay to talk to your friends/family and just establish that boundary that talking about the news is NOT something you are comfortable with at this time. Additionally, if you are worried you may see someone’s post on their news feed or you may see their “story,” it is okay to set limits on what you are able to see. Many social media platforms have the options where you are able to be friends with the person, but you may “hide” their stories or “unfollow” their posts if they are too distressing.
- Find a positive – With most news stations, it is hard to find a “positive” story emerging but there are a lot of positive news stories out there contrary to popular belief. Sometimes they are a little tricky to find but thanks to our dear friend google, you can type in “Positive News Stories” and a plethora of positive news channels will show with images of things from puppies, to businesses opening, to community activities. Such a nice change from what we typically see.
- Keep busy with things you WANT to do – That’s right everyone, the word WANT was noted. Why? Engagement in activities you want to do or activities that you are excited to engage in will impact your emotions on a whole different level than if it is an activity that you HAVE to do. Typically, I always encourage any clients I work with to have a running list of activities they enjoy doing as well as activities they want to try readily available to them when they are having a tough day. Many times, when our emotions get the best of us, it is quite easy to forget the things that help us in times of need. A list of activities to reference helps remind us of the things we can do that may help bolster an improved mood.
- Access your supports – When things are negative and you struggling, do not hesitate to reach out to your closest friends, your family, your counselor, or any supports you can safely share your emotions with. Sometimes the best way to manage the chaos of everyday life is to receive validation, support, and understanding from the ones most important in our lives. Feel like nobody is available? Check out Spectrum Health’s Community of Caring schedule and NY Project Hope’s Hope and Cope: Techniques for Making Life Easier schedule. Best of all, both are free and fun.
“Wow Katrina, that is a lot of stuff to think about doing! What happens if I try all those things and I am still feeling stuck?”
Do not hesitate to reach out. Someone is always here for you at Spectrum Health. The journey we are all on at the present time is a very tumultuous one with loads of bumps, turns, and obstacles in the way but you do not have to do it all alone. One thing that has not changed as a result of the pandemic is your ability to access counseling services. If anything, the options to receive those services have greatly improved across the board and there is an influx of people reaching out for help that have never been involved in services before. Whether your preference is in person visits, having visits on a video platform, or having a session via phone, you have the opportunity to work on your emotions with support of someone else. Times are tough. This is true. But you my dear friends are far tougher. No matter what the news of the day brings up, let’s gear up, suit up, and manage those emotions one skill at a time. It may seem dark and bleak at times but I assure you, you CAN do this.
Clinical Director, Springville Counseling Center