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Taking Care of Your Mental Health When the News is Awful

May 25, 2022

Not a week goes by without awful, troubling, traumatic, angering, frustrating, and scary news.

It's normal for news like this to result in strong feelings.  

It can be difficult to engage with current events and also difficult to ignore them. 

It's important to be aware of what's happening in the world. 

It's vital to take care of yourself and your mental health.  

And that ^^^ is a whole bunch of conflicting but true information. So what can we do about it? 

Notice

Pay attention to what comes up as you engage with the news.

  • Notice how the news makes you feel.
  • Recognize, If possible, how it feels to disengage from the news for a bit.  
  • Pay attention to how people in various communities have to engage with the news in different ways.
  • Remember that the ability to disengage from what's happening is a privilege.  
  • Notice when you're ruminating on things outside of your control. 
  • Recognize when you're doomscrolling - obsessively scrolling negative news, often to try and get answers when we're feeling afraid.  

Do Something

When you notice conflict or behaviors that aren't helpful to you - do something different.

  • Help people more closely affected by the news. 
  • Get involved in issues that are meaningful to you. 
  • Advocate for systemic changes that may help prevent something like this in the future.
  • Limit news intake for a bit. 
  • Do an activity that you enjoy. 
  • Stay connected with friends and family; lean on them when you need. 
  • Stay active - moving your body helps release stress. 
  • Talk to a therapist about your feelings. 
  • Plan an enjoyable event. Remember that your life will continue after this news cycle. Planning something to look forward to can help.  

Be Open

Not everyone feels the same way about the same event. Some worry that differences in how we digest the same events will further divide our communities. Counteract this in your life if you can by maintaining close relationships – even with those who don’t see eye to eye with you. 

Especially when news results in big feelings for you, engaging with people who feel differently can be very difficult. Give yourself some grace to bow out of conversations when you need it.  

When you are ready to engage with others about the event, even with the understanding they may view things differently than you, be open. There are always reasons why people feel the way they do about certain issues.  

  • Avoid assumptions about other people and how they think.  
  • Anticipate differences in opinions to prepare for difficult conversations.  
  • Remember that someone might be trying to limit news exposure for their mental wellbeing. 
  • Be curious! Ask open-ended, genuinely curious, nonjudgemental questions. 
  • Listen to what people say. Deepen your understanding with follow-up inquiries.  
  • Reflect back on their perspective by naming ways in which you agree with their point of view. 
  • Share your perspective by telling a story about a personal experience.  

Get Support

There are many ways to get support for yourself or people close to you. At UNC-Chapel Hill, you can use the Resource Hub on the Heels Care Network to filter for the resources that will work best at this moment.

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