Tips to Maintain Your Mental Health During Times of Stressful News

Anxious Man at his laptop.

The news didn't used to be like this. Not so long ago, we consumed our news in two, maybe three big chunks. Over breakfast with the morning paper; after dinner with the evening news; and occasionally, if something monumental happened, during a breaking news alert.

Now, not only is news a 24-hour-a-day business; you can’t seem to escape it. It's not just the cable news networks, news dominates the local channels from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. to midnight, only to start all over again at 5:00 a.m. Plus, it’s all over your social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Often, you read social media posts where friends and family are disagreeing on recent news events.

The top headlines are rarely cute puppies or stories of people helping others. There’s an old saying – “if it bleeds, it leads.” So, we are constantly exposed to reports of not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also crime, domestic terrorism, natural disaster, economic collapse, plane crashes, brutality and, of course, unending political wrangling. It’s no wonder it sometimes feels like the sky is falling.

 

If the news is making you anxious, we have tips to help you cope.

  1. Unplug. Unless you’re a reporter, news editor or politician, there’s no real reason you need to be watching the latest happenings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Choose to read the newspaper over watching TV news. That way, you’re in control over the images and thoughts that come into your brain. If you must watch TV news, be selective and only watch for a few minutes a day.
  2. Consider taking a break from social media. If that’s not possible, then connect only occasionally and edit the things that appear in your news feed.
  3. Take care of your body. Exercise is a great stress reliever and it has the advantage of taking you away from your electronic devices. Eat a healthy diet and limit alcohol.
  4. Get enough rest. Physicians recommend seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night. If you’re having trouble achieving that, lifestyle changes help. Turn off the TV and computer at least an hour before bedtime. Limit your caffeine intake. Reserve the bedroom for sleeping, not for working. If you still have trouble, talk with your doctor.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. Don’t let people who are negative or pessimistic bring you down!
  6. Help others. Volunteering is still possible during COVID-19. Many food pantries and homeless shelters can use your time and donations. Helping others can make a big difference in your outlook and attitude.
  7. Learn to relax. Meditate or take a walk in the park. We feel better when we connect with our inner selves and the natural world that surrounds us. There are many mediation apps to help you, including New Vista's myStrength app. Click here to download the myStrength app for free with the code SEE THE GOOD.
  8. Start a journal. Write down the thoughts and feelings that are bothering you and then put them aside. Get professional help. It’s not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength.

 

New Vista is here to help with our 24-Hour Helpline. If you have questions, concerns or need an appointment, call us at 1.800.928.8000. Mental health experts are just a phone call away.  At New Vista our mission is to help individuals see the good ahead in their lives. Our therapists, psychiatrists and nurses live and work in Central Kentucky. We help regardless of a client's ability to pay for services, we are a nonprofit dedicated to mental health, substance use and intellectual and developmental disability services.