Whether you're an avid watcher of the daily news, you listen to the radio on your daily work commute, or your Facebook feed is inundated with shared articles from around the world, it likely feels nearly impossible to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the stresses of today's controversial issues.
The topics at hand are staggering - the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut, the combative political climate and the upcoming elections, the strain of our country's social justice issues, and the growing concerns over the environment are just some of the countless issues that can easily get under your skin and bring your personal anxiety levels to a fever pitch.
Here are four ways that you can work to reduce those anxieties and try to master your own experience regarding the state of the world and the negativity in the media - regardless of the topic at hand.
Decrease Your Exposure
Take inventory of where you get most of your news. There may be sources you hadn't necessarily realized you were getting news from, but which you were just using by habit, like during your morning commute. Is there a television on in your house while you're getting ready for work? Does your office have a break room that keeps a 24 hour news cycle on? Are you following a lot of news stations or media groups on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook?
The first thing you can do to decrease your stress level is to decrease your exposure - once you've taken inventory, start getting rid of some of the places you are getting your news from. Unfollow groups on social media. Try to limit the time you spend around 24 hour news cycle TV shows. Listen to podcasts or entertainment news shows during your commute, instead of breaking news blocks. By doing this, it will help make it seem less like you are bogged down with constant exposure to the more controversial news in today's society.
When you do find yourself watching cable news, try and remember that while it may seem that the world is falling apart, the opposite is actually correct. Multiple studies have shown that not only is the Western world becoming a safer place, but the entire world's homicide and general crime rates have been dropping since the mid 90s. It only seems like things are worse now than before because of 24/7 coverage and constant conversation around these topics. Decrease your exposure, and keep your perspective in check.
Increase Your Awareness of the Good in the World
As you begin to remove the more negative outlets in your life, find more positive and uplifting news and information sources to supplement your day with. Sunny Skyz, Good News Network, and Daily Good are all websites that curate positive news stories. You can also use social media like Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter to source hashtags like #upliftingnews, #feelgood, #inspiring, and other similar positive messages.
It is also beneficial to increase your awareness of the good in your life. One effective way to do this is to keep some sort of written log of all that you are grateful for. Every morning I exhange a text with one of my closest friends in which we each identify three things we are thankful for from the previous day. The great things about this is that on particularly difficult days, I can always scroll back through the texts for a really meaningful mood boost.
Find a Way to Help
For many people, part of the anxiety can come from a feeling of helplessness. You may hear a news story about a particular crisis or even an ongoing issue, but because there is nothing that you feel you can do, it somehow magnifies the problem. If there are problems or issues that speak deeply to you, or which trouble you the most, do some research and see if there are groups that you can reach out to and help. Fiscal donations are typically very welcome by most charities, but local organizations are often always happy to have volunteers (and it's likely that you will find yourself feeling like you've done more by giving a weekend of your time than just writing a check).
Create a Safe Place to Vent
Oftentimes, venting to friends, family, or colleagues about the controversial topics that bring us anxiety only brings more anxiety into our lives. If they agree with us on the issues, it might mean delving deeper into those problems and excavating more issues that you feel unsure about how to handle. If they don't agree with us on the issues, then it can turn into a debate - or worse, a full argument. Having a safe space where you can let out your feelings about these topics, be it a physical journal or an online blog, are healthy ways to let some of that steam off, and help reduce the amount of anxiety you're feeling about many topics.
Need more help? Contact us for further guidance on reducing stress, finding relaxation, and discovering your own path to mindfulness and well-being.