When the world feels like it’s in chaos and the news is filled with sad and scary events it’s absolutely normal that you experience lots of big emotions at once. When they come together they can be especially draining.
Processing all these feelings and trying to make sense of the world can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Managing emotions when the world gets intense.
Some of the common and difficult emotions you may experience when the world gets extra intense might include:
- Sadness at the atrocities people and the planet are experiencing.
- Anger that the powers that be (governments and big business) don’t step into help.
- Relief that you and your nearest and dearest are safe and well.
- Guilt from feeling that relief.
- Frustration or feelings of helplessness
- Shame that there is such outcry and coverage of some events but not others.
And finally, overwhelm. Overwhelm from all those emotions. But also by the constant stream of news, the resharing of that news and the potential propaganda and bias in the news.
Does any of this sound familiar?
The emotional rollercoaster can get pretty overwhelming, pretty quickly. And that triggers all sorts of stress for you to deal with.
You cannot eradicate bad news and stress but you can manage it.
If you have read any of my previous posts you’ll know that I think it’s impossible to remove all stress. Aiming to eradicate it totally just causes more of it.
What you need to do is learn to manage how you process and interact with it.
That doesn’t mean pretending you’re not affected by bad news (no toxic #GoodVibesOnly here, thanks!).
It means creating healthy coping mechanisms that help you process it in a way that feels as manageable as possible. One that helps you move through it and out the other side whilst doing your best to look after your wellbeing.
Steps to manage overwhelm
If you’re not sure where to begin with all this (stress can really squish your brain’s ability to take action and make decisions), here are some steps you can take to reduce overwhelm and take back control of your energy and emotions.
1. Reduce information intake
Social media, news apps, TV, even WhatsApp groups, hammer you with information. Way more than you are realistically able to process. Especially when that information is so tragic.
Choosing to delete or mute any or all of these channels doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means you care enough to make the effort to control what, when and how you consume information. Which leads nicely to the next….
2. Select your news carefully
Select just a few (3 or 4 absolute max) trusted news sources and set aside a specific time of day when you will check in with them. Here is a list of the least biased sources that can be a good place to start.
Make sure you stick to the time you set for processing news and information and only do so when you have the emotional and mental capacity for it. First or last thing in the day can be unhelpful as it can set a stressful tone for the day or be too stimulating right before bed. Trust yourself to know when it’s right for you.
3. Beware of your negativity bias
Your brain wants you to survive – so will always be drawn to potential threats and negative outcomes as it wants to help you avoid them. This is great when being chased by a wild animal but when it comes to the news it means that we can fixate on bad news and seek out more of it.
Notice which headlines you get drawn to and be mindful of this natural bias in your brain.
4. Give yourself permission to check out completely
If the above isn’t enough then you can step away totally. There is no law that means you must check in with the news each day. Give yourself the space to process and rebalance.
5. Remember the things that help
When you are dealing with big emotions it can be hard to stop and make time to do the things that you know will help you feel better. Neglecting your own needs in this moment won’t help you meet someone else’s.
Tap into things that help you feel calm. Maybe that’s cooking your favourite meal, going for a run, hugging it out or doing a puzzle. Make time to care for yourself. Your nervous system and those around you will appreciate it. I promise.
How will you make time to look after yourself today?