Let’s be honest, over the past few years the news hasn’t been a particularly cheerful place.

Your phone is buzzing with breaking news alerts, your social media is constantly updating with concern for the world and people are asking whether you’ve heard about the latest price increase.

It’s all a bit overwhelming. And it’s important that we acknowledge that. But it’s also important that you have some coping strategies to support yourself.

Is worrying normal? Should I limit how much I worry?

Yes, it is - and yes, you should. Worrying about others can show that you’re an empathetic person - which is a very kind trait to possess. Worrying about a range of different things from finances to arguments can just be a normal part of life. But it is vital to have a hold on just how much time you spend worrying.

Particularly when current affairs are overwhelmingly difficult, we recommend implementing ‘worry time’. This is a set time each day where you can think about your worries and concerns.

Don’t let your worry time be any longer than 15 minutes or you can start to overthink and conjure up new and unhelpful thoughts and concerns.

At the end of your worry time, you have to ask yourself ‘can I do anything about this?’ If the answer is yes, then implement an action plan of what, when, and how you’re going to resolve this concern. If the answer is no then use your energy to accept this.

If worry time is too difficult to implement and worry is beginning to take over your life then you must speak to your GP immediately.

Who to speak to when you feel stressed

Our friends, families and colleagues will all have their own individual qualities. It’s crucial to find the people that help you to rationalise your emotions; listen to your worries, and calm you down.

If you’re particularly stressed about current affairs, discussing them with a dramatic person isn’t going to do you any good.

If such a person does try to engage in this kind of conversation with you, just tell them that you find the topic too stressful to discuss at the moment. Setting boundaries is non-negotiable for your mental health.

Limit your time online and watching the news

Recognise which media ignites the most worry. Perhaps it’s Facebook, Reddit, or just BBC news. Whatever it may be, if it has a negative impact on you then try to limit your exposure, or go on a detox altogether.

Research dating back to the 90s showed: “Participants who watched the negatively valenced bulletin showed increases in both anxious and sad mood, and also showed a significant increase in the tendency to catastrophize a personal worry.” 

Another study, conducted in 2015, also confirmed that: “Increased frequency of viewing newscasts was associated with reported anxiety reflected in uncontrolled fear, physiological hyperarousal, sleeping difficulties, and fearful thoughts.”

So, it’s evident that reducing your intake of news bulletins - particularly if you notice that it causes unwanted emotions - is worthwhile. The same can be said for any other media that generates negativity or anxiety in your life. 

Vary your media diet and seek out credible sources

In this modern age, many of us get our news from social media. This is okay if it’s coming from credible, evidenced and trustworthy sources.

It’s not okay to trust a random and unqualified friend on Facebook. You could be fooled to believe something completely untrue that’ll have you worrying for no good reason.

We strongly advise vetting where you get your news from and reading/watching from different (and trusted) sources. This will help to reduce the worry of current affairs as you benefit from different perspectives and factual knowledge instead of one-sided views and speculation.

Show gratitude for a more positive life

When many news outlets feed off of the fear of others in order to sell stories and get clicks - it’s easy to become consumed by negativity. You can choose to be more positive.

How? Just like your worry time, make a conscious effort to have gratitude time. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, have a think about what you’re grateful for; what you’re looking forward to; and what’s been going well lately.

We appreciate that everyone’s situation is different and removing worry from your life is unrealistic - but we do hope this helps you to effectively manage it. And remember, if worry is consuming your day, please reach out to your GP.

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