How to avoid being overwhelmed by the news

The latest round of warfare in Gaza and Israel is piling more desperate news on top of an already saturated agenda. Climate change. The plight of refugees. War in Ukraine. While we have a duty to humanity to understand and recognize these crises, it does us no good to become completely overwhelmed by them. We have to stay grounded and we have a right to maintain our own wellbeing even in the midst of such suffering. Here are some tips for weathering the media storm.

1. Seek the truth

One of the reasons we might become deeply activated by the news is if we become the unwitting recipients of fake or very impartial news. Where possible, seek out news from trusted sources (respected papers or broadcasters and commentators).

2. Limit your consumption

You want to keep abreast of the news, but you don’t want to drown in it. You can do this by setting specific times when you will watch or read the news or by reading briefings and digests that summarise a topic. Try to avoid “doom-scrolling” – being caught idly flicking through social media or news sites without engaging in the content in a meaningful way. If you find this happening, take a breath, pause, and reorientate your mind to another task or activity.

3. Set boundaries

Some topics can be triggering while others you may only have the energy to engage with at particular times. It’s okay to set boundaries with people and to say if you don’t feel comfortable discussing a particular issue, especially if you think it might lead to a hostile debate.

4. Find positive stories

You may wish to balance out your engagements with negative news by finding positive stories. There are particular sites – like PositiveNews – that specialize in curating uplifting stories.

5. Take action

One of the reasons we can find news so overwhelming is because we lack – or think we lack – the capacity to act. You might find that if you channel your anxiety or anger into some form of practical task, that difficult emotion begins to ebb or subside. Your response could be directly related to the news you are seeing – donating to a charity, volunteering, or attending a rally, for example. Or it could be that you simply make a resolution in your own life to adopt certain habits that help to spread compassionate behavior and values.

6. Accept what you cannot change

You cannot stop climate change or end war all by yourself. Do not try and shoulder the burdens of the world. Identify what it is that you can do – in your own life and in your community and the ways in which you will need support and help from others. 

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