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Five Tips To Manage News Anxiety

Let’s face it — life is heavy right now. It’s tough to stay informed and stay hopeful. While “doomscrolling” may feel satisfying in the moment, we need to balance out the negativity for our health in the long term, so we actually have the energy to be the change we want to see. Here are five steps you can take to manage your news anxiety and take care of your mental health today.

Know It’s Okay If It Hits Close to Home

Research shows that we evolved to feel connected to one other, and our ancient nervous system still controls our actions in the modern world. This means our brains believe we are in danger when we hear about other people in danger, no matter how far. And according to psychologists, the more we relate to victims of tragedy, the more intense the pain can be. The first step is recognizing that it’s okay and natural to feel this vicarious trauma, especially if it involves people around your age, race, religion or community.

Seek Out The Good

We’re biologically biased towards negativity, since our brains are designed to look for immediate threats. As a result, we can become hyper-focused on bad news. The antidote, according to therapists, is to make sure that we intentionally choose to see the good in the world. You can look to broader positive trends in science, technology and poverty reduction, or the heroic individual acts of people every day.

Perform An Act of Kindness — For Yourself, For Others

A good part of having a socially-wired brain is that performing acts of kindness makes us feel happier and healthier. That can be something as simple as telling someone you’re grateful for them, or (if you have the means) giving back to your community. And being kind towards yourself is also a way to make sure you have the energy to show up for others, so make sure to practice self-compassion in whatever form works best for you.

Create Structure In Your Online and Offline Life

One of the biggest problems with news anxiety is that it can feel endless. You can address this by scheduling time to get informed. Therapists recommend avoiding bad news in the morning and late night because the stress hormones it releases can change the tone of both your day and your sleep. You can also structure the accounts you follow for your feeds — decide which platforms are for inspiration, which are for education, and which ones are for staying up-to-date. Psychologists say routine is important in times of crisis, so do what you can to manage the basics virtually and physically.

Focus On What You Can Control

We can transform news anxiety into action by putting our energy into what we can control. Activities like drawing a locus of control or journaling can make these things more clear for us. These techniques ask us to articulate what is and isn't in our control, and see what overlap exists in a ‘sphere of influence’. For example, are there ways to learn the historical context of a conflict? Are there places to donate, or mutual aid networks to volunteer for? By focusing on our values and the things we can do, we can become the good news we want to see in the world.

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