Do you ever find yourself stressed out from the onslaught of negative, sometimes disturbing news saturating your TV screens, newspapers and social media feeds?
In recent weeks, given the coverage of various large-scale world events, many people might find themselves overwhelmed by the news.
Psychotherapist and business coach Hina Khan says, in some cases, the stress brought on by world events can actually take a toll on person’s mental, emotional and physical well-being if not managed well.
“What happens is, when we’re in a constant stream of negative news, of disturbing news – that becomes our predominant thought,” Khan said in an interview on CTV’s Your Morning this week. “It’s the emotional involvement that changes our physical state.”
Khan said people might notice that their posture changes or they may experience an increase in blood pressure, “as we get emotionally involved in these news events that we’re seeing that we feel we have no control over.”
However, there are strategies Khan suggests to counteract the feelings of negativity or helplessness over difficult news events:
Unplug from social media
Khan says people should control social media, “not let it control you.” This means finding the right time during the day to “unplug.”
“You have to give yourself permission to unplug because I think many people feel, ‘Well, if I unplug, I’m not being responsible, I should be on top of everything,’” Khan said.
She added that if news is affecting an individual’s mental or emotional health, that person is “not going to be able to come up with ideas and solutions or help the situation.”
A good way to figure out the best time of day to withdraw from your social media feeds is to examine your day, looking at times when you are less “resilient,” Khan said.
However, Khan says there is one particular time of day when screens should always be off, no matter who you are.
“The last thing you want to do,” she said, is check your social media or news feeds right before bed. “Can you imagine, that’s the last thing you take in before you go to sleep?”
Khan also advises those feeling overwhelmed by world events to practise self-care, including exercising, drinking water and getting a proper amount of sleep.
“That way you’re not reacting and you can respond to information, because you’re better equipped to do that, you’ve taken care of yourself,” Khan said.
The business coach also suggests taking the nervous energy and redirecting it into something productive.
“Action is a great way to be able to deal with stress or anxiety because you feel like you’re doing something,” she said.
Taking control could include mending rifts with co-workers, friends or family that have arisen over conflicting world views.
If you disagree with a loved one over politics, for instance, avoid that topic of conversation completely. “Make the decision that you’re going to have the best interaction with this person because you love them,” Khan said.
Feeling helpless by what you see on the news? Join an organization where you feel you can make a meaningful contribution, suggests Khan.
Embracing healthy stress
Part of managing stress can also include recognizing that certain kinds of stress are healthy and part of life.
“Good” stress can include a work deadline, says Khan. “There is a little bit of pressure around that, but it moves you into action.”
Positive changes in your life, such as a career change, or expecting a child can add pressure to your life but that doesn’t make them negative, Khan said.
“Stress is not always bad, but we want to be able to manage it and be in control of it,” she said.