Weathering the storm
Call it news fatigue. Thanks to issues like the pandemic, climate change weather events, economic problems and war, well… we’ve all been living through some pretty unique historical events. Does anyone else want to get off this ride?
These really are unprecedented times, says Ken Yeager, PhD, who leads a Stress, Trauma and Resilience Program at the Ohio State University. Dr Yeager says current events have led a lot of us to feeling some pretty raw emotions, including stress, anxiety, fear and that eerie feeling of impending doom. “It’s like we’re all watching a train wreck, and it’s really very difficult to look away,” he says. “Everyone has to find a way to make sense of these uncertain times.”
Some people respond with a type of hyper-vigilance, constantly scrolling through the news and checking in with loved ones. Others, he says, ignore it as much as possible, trying to carry on with business as usual. Both strategies can cause extreme anxiety and don’t necessarily deliver much that’s very helpful.
So, instead of driving yourself crazy with worry or hiding from the world, what can you do to cope when the news feels dire? It’s about taking steps to foster your sense of mental wellness, says Dr Yeager. Read his pro tips for surviving and thriving in stressful times.
Know your feelings are valid
It’s OK to be scared and worried – that doesn’t mean you are weak or broken. Dr Yeager suggests when you feel that pit in your stomach, take a minute to listen, rather than trying to push away your feelings. Try a guided meditation, journalling, or talking with a friend to help you process your feelings.
One quick and simple way to combat that “the world is ending” feeling is to step outside, ideally in nature, and remind yourself of all the beauty and safety surrounding you. “Get some sun on your face – it’s an instant mood booster,” Dr Yeager says.