How to Stay Calm (and Empowered) When the News Stresses you Out

September 11, 2017

In this day and age it is easy to become overwhelmed, stressed and frightened when listening to the news cycle.  But there are things that we can do to empower ourselves and become more politically active.  There are also times when we just need to disconnect from the anxiety in a healthy way.  Here are some techniques for doing just that:

  1. Disengage from digital alerts or limit them.  I used to have the New York Times send me notifications throughout the day until I realized that when I turned on my phone and saw these blurbs across my screen it put my stomach into a big ball of nerves.  I quickly turned off the alerts and am a lot happier for it, because now I can get the news when I want to get the news, and not the other way around.
  2. Gabby Bernstein (life coach, motivational speaker) recommends getting some kind of humor/satire from the news in order to keep things a bit lighter, when it is appropriate.  Not everything going on in the world is funny, of course, but sometimes watching something like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah or some kind of comedic relief can help release stress while still helping you to get your fix of knowing what’s going on in the world.
  3. Make a commitment at times with family and friends not to talk politics for a few hours and to keep things light and fun.  There is definitely a benefit to “turning off” and “tuning out” when it comes to our current events these days.
  4. Just shut off the news.  As New York Times writer Winona Dimeo-Ediger, who writes about just this type of thing, says, “If you had a broken leg, you’d stop walking on it.”  In other words, it’s been a stressful few months in the world, so give yourself some time to heal.
  5. Remind yourself of the good.  Licensed Clinical Psychologist Stephanie Smith gave some great points in a Huffington Post article about election stress, and it still rings true today, even after the election, reminding us that even just a little compassion goes a long way. Research shows that when we’re generous it makes us happier, and happier people are kinder people.  Try to disengage from the negative and instead do something generous like volunteer at a local charity, food pantry, animal shelter, etc.
  6. Make self-care an absolute priority in order to decompress from the stress of the current news cycle.  Make yourself a cup of tea, get outside in nature, do something outside your comfort zone that makes you feel alive, make sure that you don’t isolate, get enough exercise and sleep, meditate, etc.  Try not to obsess over the news as best as you can.  Be mindful of how it may be impacting you and your family and step away from the TV, newspapers, magazines, and computer/social media when you need to.
  7. Smith also reminds us to seek help if necessary.  If the stress becomes too overwhelming, think about talking to a counselor who can help you to put things in perspective, give you a safe space to share your anxiety, and support you in gaining some coping tools to deal with that anxiety and stress.   The healthy living editors at the Huffington Post also give us some great in-the-moment de-stressing techniques as well; some ideas include  unsubscribing from promotional materials, spending time with your BFF, peeling an orange, reading a book, taking up knitting or doing a craft project of some sort, or trying a “chocolate meditation technique.” There are about 94 other ideas found here!
  8. Be careful of how much you use social media. You may want to consider deleting Facebook from your phone and limit the number of times a day you go on any form of social media, especially at night, as it can rev you up instead of calming you down for a peaceful night’s sleep.
  9. Put everything in perspective.  We’ve been through tough times in our country before, and we’ve gotten through it.  We’ll get through this, too.
  10. Figure out how you can grow from these challenges that our country faces.  Use your voice.  Get involved in something that means a lot to you.  What is the potential here to evolve?  Run for local office, sign petitions, join groups where you feel you’re heard and can bond with others.  Do what you can to take action and feel empowered!