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Dealing with Anxiety about World Events

  • Aug 16, 2022
  • Wellbeing

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World events such as the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, mass shootings in America, global warming, politics, and the rise of cost of living have dominated the news headlines in recent months. Whilst keeping informed is very important, getting caught up in the headlines can lead to feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

If you are struggling to sleep or concentrate on work because of continuous news coverage, it is important to take a break and be kind to yourself, recognising that these feelings are understandable. In this article, we’re going to look at what steps you can take to look after your mental health when faced with unprecedented events and conflict that you have no control over.

Tips on coping with anxiety about world events

World events can certainly cause us to feel anxious and helpless. There is a lot that we can’t control, but by changing our perspective we can see that there is a lot we can do to help us manage uncertainty. Here are five tips that will help you deal with current events more effectively.

1.) Recognise when you need to take a break from the news

It is important to stay informed on current affairs, but it is more important to recognise when what you are seeing and reading starts to become overwhelming. Relentless exposure to traumatic events in the media can contribute to anxiety, problems with sleeping and feelings of helplessness. Rather than excessively scrolling through news and spending time on social media sites throughout the day (sometimes referred to as “doomscrolling”), find one trustworthy news source and check that once a day.

Some news outlets will exaggerate headlines or present them in a slightly more dramatic way to attract viewers and readers to their sites. Remember that most of the news reported on television or via online publications is negative and therefore you may need to look specifically for positive news on the topic you are interested in.

2.) Choose when to watch the news

What can also help you cope with anxiety about world events is not watching news late at night as this may have a detrimental impact on your sleep. Try and choose the time and place you read news content, rather than being consumed by it from phone and computer notifications. This will help you gain control of your day and give you time and space to carry out further research or discuss what you have read with a friend or family member, if you feel that is beneficial.

3.) Focus on what you can control and accept what you can’t

It’s understandable to be concerned about what’s happening in the world around us. It is important to accept that, while we want to help make things better, much of what is going on is outside of our control. We can contemplate all kinds of worst-case scenarios yet cannot affect or influence any of them. It is natural in these situations to feel a sense of powerlessness and despair, so it is important to find a way to deal with this anxiety in a positive way.

Start by focusing on the things you can control and realising that you can’t influence world events, even more so the ones taking place in another country. Even small actions and gestures can make a difference. Helping others, for instance, is a great way to improve mental wellbeing and brings a sense of control over the things you can change. You could consider:

  • Donating money or time to a charity of your choice.
  • Raising awareness of a cause in your local community.
  • Getting involved in local volunteering opportunities.
  • Finding out how you can support families in your area who have been directly affected by conflict.

4.) Look after your mind and body

Making time to do the things you enjoy will help you to deal with stress and anxiety. This could be as simple as going for a walk, listening to music, or spending quality time with friends and family. Looking after your general health by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep will help boost your energy. Some people find that mindfulness-based meditation and yoga, along with breathing exercises are an excellent way to help focus on the present moment and reduce stress.

5.) Reach out to others

If you are struggling to cope with world events, consider reaching out to friends and family members for support. Going out for a cup of coffee with a friend and reaching out for a chat to discuss the stress and anxiety related to what’s happening in the world could be a good start. Mental health support is also available should you need it. Samaritans and Mental Health Innovations are free confidential mental health services. You can reach them via their helpline, email, or text service as well as self-help apps. For urgent mental health help, find and call your local 24-hours NHS helpline.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute the medical advice from a healthcare professional.