How to Take Care of Your Mental Health This News Cycle

Feeling anxious after checking the news? You’re not alone. Between the Kavanaugh hearings, the latest report on climate change, the recent shootings and the midterm elections, this news cycle has been a lot to handle. 

Anxiety in general is on the rise for Americans — this past May, the American Psychiatric Association released a study displaying a sharp increase in anxiety rates among Americans, especially for women and people of color. According to the poll, “more than half (57%) of women 18-49 years reported being more anxious [than last year]” and people of color scored 11 points higher on the anxiety index than Caucasian respondents.

 

Additionally, sexual assault survivors have experienced a spike in anxiety following the hearings and subsequent confirmation of the newest Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault. The Kavanaugh accusations sparked a widespread discussion in the media about sexual assault, rape culture and the #metoo movement. During Kavanaugh hearings, the National Sexual Assault Hotline in the US reported a 338% increase in callers, a record number for the hotline. 

With everything going on nowadays, anxiety about the world seems inevitable. So, what can you do to take care of your mental health this news cycle? Here are some tips:

1. Give yourself a break from the news: staying informed is important, but it’s also important to take care of yourself. If you find yourself constantly checking the news or feeling triggered by certain hot topics in the media, it may be a good idea to stay away from the news for a day or two. Turn off your CNN updates, log off Twitter and quit refreshing the “New York Times” homepage. The news will still be there tomorrow for you to catch up on.

2. Exercise: We know you’re probably tired of hearing it, but exercise really does make a difference in mental health. Even just exercising for 30 minutes a couple of times a week can dramatically reduce stress levels. Take a class at the rec, hop on the elliptical, lift some weights or even just download a meditation app like this one. A few minutes can make a big difference.

3. Talk to others about your feelings: Reaching out to trusted friends and family can be a great source of support. It may be especially helpful to consider joining a support group where you can openly voice your feelings to people who have gone through similar experiences.

4. Channel your frustration: Recent events may have left you not just feeling angry or upset, but feeling the need to do something. Channel this energy into things you care about — hobbies, schoolwork, philanthropy, anything that gives you a feeling of accomplishment. You could also consider campaigning for an issue you’re concerned about, like women’s rights or climate change.

Ultimately, the world can be a very tough place. We can’t control everything that happens to us — but we can do things to take care of ourselves and others.