Bleats

How To Look After Your Mental Health After A Horrible News Week

It's been a week.

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. 

You! Always! Do!

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.

Step away:
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.

Trust Barnaby Joyce To Criticise Two People Who Died In The Bushfires

Insensitive is one word for it.

We have a few national sports here in Australia. Cricket, rolling Prime Ministers, and placing bets on when Barnaby Joyce will say or do something incredibly stupid. If you had your money on today, then congrats! You’re a winner.

Not a great bet to win, but oh well

The fires ripping through the east coast of the country have been devastating, and the footage coming out of the worst affected places around Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie in New South Wales are enough to send your heart into your stomach. People have lost everything, and for some that includes their lives. 

Three people have died in the fires, one by Taree and two in Glen Innes. The only named victim so far is Vivian Chaplain, 69. She was taken to hospital after firefighters discovered her with severe burns. She passed away in hospital.

What most regular people are thinking about in these circumstances is how sorry we are for Vivian, the other victims, and their families, and hoping that no more people lose their lives to the blaze. What Barnaby Joyce thinks about is which party the people who died voted for.

He appeared on Sky News earlier this morning to defend his opinion that the Greens are somehow to blame for the fire situation because they opposed hazard reduction burns – which is rich seeing as it’s Barnaby’s government that has cut the amount of NSW national park rangers who do the actual hazard reduction by a third, but I digress.

During the interview, he decided that today was the best time to drop this gem:

“I acknowledge that the two people who died were most likely people who voted for the Green party, so I am not going to start attacking them. That’s the last thing I want to do.”

Hoo boy. And when people rightfully started calling him out for being an insensitive jerk, he decided to double down. Because of course he did. Later in the day, he said:

“The people who live there are in a commune basically. Wytaliba is an alternative community. They don’t vote for me, they vote for Greens, and I’ve got no problem with it. They agree there should have been more burn reduction, fuel reduction.”

Barnaby. Shut up.

The last couple of days have been a wild time for politicians blaming literally anything instead of climate change for the fires. Our Deputy PM said yesterday that climate change is “woke capital-city greenies ravings”, and another Liberal senator has accused the Bureau of Meteorology of changing their temperature records to fit a global warming agenda.

So basically these fires have confirmed what the rest of us have known for a while now: climate change is real and our politicians are a bit nuts.

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