It’s hard to miss the news right now.  And it feels like none of is it good.  And so many people I know are fed up with dealing with bad news so are stepping away from it altogether.

And I get that.  I did the same myself back in 2016 when my nervous system was shot with ill health and burnout (and Trump 🙄).  And there’s no doubt that being exposed to these stories absolutely creates a stress response in us, both in terms of content and how they’re delivered.  And that means fear, anxiety, irritability, anger, overwhelm, disconnect even depression.  And no one wants that.

But I do have concerns about so many people removing themselves from current affairs and the stuff that impacts every aspect of our lives.  Particularly when it tends to be those who are empathetic, who think deeply and make considered decisions, and who can see different perspectives.

Because if we disengage, who gets left making the big decisions, who’s voice gets heard, who gets stuff done?

At best, it’s the people who can cope, but potentially that’s with a narrow viewpoint.  At worst, it’s the loud, the arrogant, the self servers and the sociopaths.  If those of us I call Secret Misfits – the quiet rebels, introverts, and highly sensitives – have to step out, who takes our place?

And so, to me, it’s great if we can find a way to stay sane but also to stay engaged.  But that takes work and each of us has to find our own way through.  Things that work for me include:

  • Being in the driving seat: Choose what news you want to encounter and when. I keep things simple and just read a couple of (reputable) apps at times of my choosing.  No notifications and alerts, and I use “lock out” apps if I’m getting too embroiled in Twitter. 

  • Being prepared.  Knowing when you’re going to encounter news means you can get yourself prepared.  Use self regulating techniques before and after to “bookend” what can be a a tricky time so your stress levels don’t rise so high and calm back down quickly.  This means you head into the rest of your day on a more even keel (hello resilience).  Check our my blogs for tips.    

  • Just dip in a toe:  If there’s something really difficult for you (and remember this doesn’t just have to be about news), get into that “prepared” zone above with lots of nervous system regulation.  And just gently dip a toe into the thing that’s causing you stress.  For this example you could limit yourself to one news story or perhaps set a timer for 5 minutes.  And then immediately back to what makes you feel calmer.  In fact, if you can keep the “regulator” with you whilst exposed that’s even better, so examples could be positioning yourself near the window where you can watch birds in the garden, stroking the dog or playing music in the background.  It really doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s amazing the difference it can make!

  • Dealing with facts.  They’re a lot of rubbish out there – Aunty Mabel’s cousin on Facebook is not your friend here.  And also remember to deal with the real stuff, not the “future-guessed”.  So many of us catastrophise, make up what’s going to happen (in a future we can never know) and treat it as fact – and it really doesn’t help.

  • Bringing balance.  When things are tough, we need more of the good stuff, the calm stuff, the stuff that brings back hope and lifts our spirits.  So do whatever that is for you, and do more of it!  For me, it’s getting out into the hills or having a laugh (and bonus, they’re free).  

  • Harnessing the rage.  I haven’t got this one worked out yet.  But sometimes this stuff makes me mad.  And that’s a horrid feeling when combined with helplessness.  But now I’m in charge of my autonomic nervous system, I know I can get stuck in without overwhelm.  And feeling like I can make a positive change is so much better than being a helpless bystander.  Confession – I haven’t worked out how or what just yet, but I’m on the case!

What’s keeping you calm right now?  I’d love to hear.