Scary world news can affect our mental health. After learning about global events that cause uncertainty, you may feel fear, anxiety or a loss of control over your own life and plans. You may worry for the safety of strangers, loved ones or yourself. And if you have lived through similar events in the past, it may bring up traumatic memories.
Know that whatever you feel is valid. Know that we care about you and your mental health. And know that you are not alone in this.
We have created some advice to help you cope and support your loved ones during these uncertain times.
Stay informed, but be aware of your limits
Ask yourself, "how much information and scary world news am I currently taking in? And how does it make me feel?"
If it’s having a negative effect on how you feel, try to:
- take a short break from the news
- mute or turn off news notifications on your smartphone
- mute or unfollow social media accounts that are reporting on it
- or limit your news intake to once a day
After you’ve had a break, ask yourself "how do I feel now that I’ve had a space from the news?"
If you find that the break has helped, then try to continue:
- to stay informed in bitesize portions
- to take space from the news when you need to
- to pause and check in on how you feel
- to engage with different social media platforms based on how they make you feel
Over and above those, try to be intentional in how you are consuming news, and, as much as you can, avoid long 'scrolling through' sessions.
Try to accept that, although we may want to help or change the current global and national situation, some of these things may be out of our control.
We talk about ways that you can meaningfully engage or feel empowered in the sections below.
Engage with your community in a meaningful way
If the uncertainty surrounding the news is bringing about feelings of fear and isolation, remember that there are always other people that are feeling the exact same way right now and that there are things that we can do to tackle this.
Something you can do to tackle these feelings is to connect with your local community. This can help you to feel more empowered, connected and less alone.
Connect with your local community by:
- getting involved in local volunteering opportunities
- joining local grassroots campaigns, or community groups working on issues that are important to you
- joining a local Facebook group or Meet Ups to connect with people in your local area
Humans are neurologically wired to connect with others. Helping others and engaging with our local community in a meaningful way is good for our mental health.
Empower your voice
You may feel powerless if you have opinions on what is happening in the world but remain silent. And you may feel powerless if you don’t know what to do with your opinions or passion for change.
Here are some ways that you can empower your voice and feel less out of control:
- explore ways to be engaged in a political community
- take part in a peaceful organised rally
- join relevant events or debates.
Civic and political activism may make you feel more empowered and give you an avenue to express your thoughts in a constructive way.
When talking to other people about world news, if a topic comes up which you disagree on, try to focus on active listening, respectful discussion and assertive communication. Being drawn into highly polarised or disrespectful conversations usually has an adverse effect on our wellbeing.
If a comment upsets you, try to take a break, pause the conversation and come back when you feel ready.
Don’t bottle it up
When you feel overwhelmed, try to reach out for support. There are people and organisations that want to help:
- talk to a friend, family member or your GP
- call a helpline: call Samaritans on 116 123 (UK)
- join Mind’s online community: join Side by Side
- message a text support line: text SHOUT to 85258 (UK)
You could also try to express how you are feeling through creativity. You could write in a journal, listen to an emotive song, draw or dance. Express in a way that feels right for you. Try to stay with those activities for at least a few minutes to unlock their protective effects on your wellbeing.
Look after your mental health
Try to keep allocating time to things, activities and actions that are good for your mental health.
What works will be different for each person, so tune into what is right for you. Here are a few things to get your started. Try to:
- have a healthy sleep routine: check out our top tips for good sleep
- bring movement into your day: check out our tips for looking after your mental health with exercise
- nourish your body and mind with healthy foods: check out our information on diet and mental health
- spend quality time with friends, family and loved ones
- connect with nature to help reduce stress and improve your mood
All of these can help you to feel better and to take your mind off the stress of the news cycle.
Finally, if you feel that scary world news is affecting your children, then use our guide to talking to your children about scary world news to help you have open and honest conversations at home.