Ask the Experts: What to do if the News is Triggering Anxiety?
By Kamna Chhibber
Anxiety is an adaptive response, an indication being provided by our mind and body to protect us from a difficult and threatening situation. In olden eras, the threat may have been posed by wild animals and fires or storms. In today’s day and age, the threats can be multi-fold: it’s not just about threats to our lives or livelihoods, or the threat of resources being robbed or us suffering accidents, but also much of what is going on in the world around us, through the often-apocalyptic news we see.
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We are exposed to and bombarded by an enormous amount of news and information, not just every day but almost every second. The technological shifts and the ease of access to information through the internet and social media have brought the world into our homes, continuously forcing us to stare into the face of realities that we sometimes don’t understand, can’t wrap our heads around, make sense of, or determine ways to combat and work through.
This, more often than not, causes us to feel unsettled, restless and uncertain about where things are headed. The more the sense of ambiguousness of situations rises the more difficult it becomes for us to continue on, without being impacted by them. This impact could be on our moods, our levels of anxiety, sleep, appetite, thinking about the world and the future or even on our perceptions of threat in the environment around us. This makes it imperative that we seek ways in which we can protect ourselves, be realistic in the interpretations we are making of the information coming our ways and also take care of our health and well-being. Let’s take a look at some of the things that can be and need to be done by us towards this end.
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- Choose what and how much you expose yourself to – Not everyone needs to know everything or be informed about everything. It is okay for you to choose what kind of information you expose yourself to. If there are certain things that make you more anxious or cause your moods to shift then you can choose avoiding exposure to them.
- Know there are no expectations to be informed – With the number of mediums available to procure news and information, we often feel pressured with the expectation to know things. It is okay if you are not aware or choose to not be aware of certain types of information. There is no pressure to be as informed as another friend or colleague who you may be unconsciously or even consciously comparing yourself to.
- Get off social media if it is triggering you – If you feel triggered by the type or amount of information and news coming your way about certain topics then feel comfortable to get off social media for a while or to block out that particular type of information. You can also make a decision to restrict your usage of the platforms to ensure that you do not feel triggered. It is important that you introduce yourself to topics that may be difficult to your pace and when you are ready for them.
- Take care of yourself by engaging in self-care – An often loosely used concept, self-care nevertheless is very important. This in the context of feeling triggered would translate into knowing what things work for you and what do not. Attempt to integrate the things that make you feel more relaxed into your routine besides avoiding those that are leaving you feeling triggered.
- Keep sharing thoughts and feelings – There would be numerous thoughts and feelings coursing through your mind and body during this period of time. Don’t hesitate in reaching out and sharing with those you are close to. This could be a friend, family member, colleague or a professional you consult. Talking about things can help diffuse the thoughts and also help process things as one speaks about them. It also permits the processing of the emotional experiences and allows you to feel more settled and a little at ease with yourself and situations.
- Seek help – If you continue to feel unsettled and it disrupts your routine, work life, social relationships and despite your efforts you do not find it settling down, then seek professional help. With the support and guidance of an expert you would be able to determine more individually specific things that could be helpful in managing your anxiety, triggers and also aid in continuing your work and relationships with greater ease.
You do not need to demonstrate strength and grit at all times. It is always important to remember that you can consider ways of removing things that are not working for you and instead act as triggers. You can choose to do things at a pace is comfortable for you. Don’t push yourself to forcibly cope with situations that are turning out to be difficult.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal. Material on The Health Collective cannot substitute for expert advice from a trained professional.
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