It’s been a bad week to be following the news. The images coming out of the parts of the country affected by bushfires are stunning, and every day we’re hearing stories of people losing everything. Hundreds of houses have burned down, four people have lost their lives, and we don’t know yet how many animals have been affected.
Once upon a time, people watched the news at 6pm and that was the first time they heard about what was happening. Those days are well and truly gone. In a world where our news cycle runs 24/7, headlines – both good and bad – are almost inescapable.
A constant stream of horrible news can (and often does) have a major impact on our mental health – usually by either causing major spikes of anxiety, or by sending people totally numb.
There are some tips that psychologists have to help cope with the constant onslaught of bad news.
I know it’s easier to say than do, but the most obvious solution is to take a break from the news entirely. Give yourself a day or two where you do your best to avoid logging into your socials and watching the news. Throw your phone in your drawer and re-watch your favourite movies.
Go for coffee with a friend, head to the beach, or go for a drive. It genuinely helps, I promise.
Make sure you’re paying attention to the good stuff, too:
When you switch back on, make sure to pay attention to the good in the world. My favourites are Good News Network on Facebook, and the ABC’s Good News section.
Help out if you can:
A lot of the awful feelings around the news cycle is related to helplessness. If there’s a way to help out, no matter how small, if can help to know that you’ve contributed. If the news about the bushfires have been getting you down, here are some ways to chip in.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help:
Sometimes no matter what you do, you just can’t shake the dark cloud following you around created by what you’ve seen on the news. I get it, when Eurydice Dixon was killed, I could hardly leave the house. It’s important to recognise when you’re dealing with something that can’t be shaken by switching off and going for a walk. In those cases, organisations like Lifeline are always available online or on 13 11 14.