How to Not Feel Terrible After Reading the News

Edited By: Tanmaya Ramprasad 

 

Picture this. You wake up in the morning, and the first thing you do is check your phone. You go on social media and find out that coronavirus cases have hit another record high, or another abominable hate crime occurred in your region, or a small business that you really loved went bankrupt and closed doors. You continue with the rest of your day and can’t help but keep thinking about that awful thing you read in the morning. You feel powerless, angry, mournful, anxious, or any combination of these negative feelings, and it incapacitates you to do anything else. 

Sound familiar? It’s not too surprising that it would, considering how unpredictable and chaotic 2020 has been so far and continues to be. Reading the news can often make us disturbed and disheartened, and can severely impact our mental health and well-being. But there’s no denying that keeping up to date with current events is the least we can do as mindful citizens to participate in meaningful social change. Refusing to stay aware of important social and cultural moments at this crucial turning point in the history of social reform is an even more deleterious option.

So how do we go about consuming news - especially bad news - in a healthy way? And how do we take care of our mental well-being after reading the news, without turning a blind eye to important sociopolitical events? Read on to find out.

  1. 1. Share your emotions and opinions with others

    One reason why we feel powerless after reading the news is that we tend to bottle up our reactions to the news and feel frustrated that our voice isn’t heard. Worse, we may feel that our voice doesn’t matter or can’t change anything. To avoid this, externalize your feelings and share your opinion with friends and family while making sure to be respectful of others’ thoughts on the issue. The conversation doesn’t have to stop after reading the last word of that article - keep it going and engage in the discussion!

  2. 2. Limit when and how long you consume news

    Personally, I am making it a goal of mine to only start reading the news after noon when I’ve gone through some of my morning tasks. Reading something upsetting first thing in the morning can set a grim mood for the entire day, which is something you definitely want to avoid. It can also be easy to fall into a news blackhole and go hours and hours on end reading articles and watching interviews about topics that you are particularly passionate about. Although it’s certainly honourable to want to learn more about a social issue, going on a lengthy, emotional rampage is unlikely to produce any change in the issue. Try to set a time limit so that you can prevent this from happening.

  3. 3. Act on what you read

    Instead of sulking in front of a computer screen, take action so that maybe in the future, you will have contributed to a different outcome than what you see happening around you. Join a task force, sign petitions, volunteer your time or even write your own article to spread awareness about the issue. Don’t be a passive reader and merely react to the events you read about - be an active part of the “change you wish to see in the world.” 

  4. 4. Keep an open mind

    two women speaking to each other

    Society has undoubtedly become ever more divided and conflicted in 2020. This is all the more reason to make an honest effort to understand the other side’s point of view, even when we may have strong opinions of our own. When we first see a headline, it’s tempting to immediately form our own judgments about the topic and automatically dismiss any opposing opinions. However, when we recognize the complexity of the issue, and that others may have valid justifications for holding their own opinion, we are less likely to feel frustrated or to blame others.

These are just four tips to help you navigate your way through a crisis-filled year. Staying informed can be stress-inducing, but it is nevertheless a critical duty that we have as citizens. Remembering to take care of our mental well-being, we can be active consumers of news and react in productive ways to news that’s particularly troubling.