It seems like every time I check the news there’s some new terrible story – some new political drama or natural disaster that’s climate change related. It’s disheartening and leaves me feeling bleak.
Unless we all decide to be the guy who no longer reads/engages with the news, we are going to encounter tough stories. So how do we respond to and deal with all the feelings? Here are a few tangible ways to deal with the negativity of the news cycle.
1. Choose to reduce the number of times you engage with the news each day.
We don’t want to be people who bury our heads in the sand, but you don’t need to constantly refresh the New York Times or CNN on your computer. It’s important to know what’s going on in the world, but we do not need a constant stream of information in our daily lives. Choose to check the news once or twice a day (if you can, skip looking at the news on the weekend).
2. Find some positive sources of news.
There’s not just troubling news, there are so many positive stories to read, but you need to know where to look. I recommend sources like Upworthy and Huffington Post: Good News. Reading good news reminds us that there are people doing great things in the world! Some days it might not seem like it, but the world is getting better – literacy is up, poverty and disease are down, and never have more people had political freedom (source). To feel a little more encouraged, read Nicholas Kristoff’s annual column about how the world is getting better.
3. Don’t check the news first thing in the morning.
How you start your morning affects the rest of the day. If the first thing you do is check your email on your phone, read a bunch of tweets, and read the headlines – you’re setting your day up for anxiety. If you can, don’t sleep with your phone next to you and don’t check the news first thing in the morning. Rather, start your day with some meditation, or a walk outside, or even just five minutes in silence with a cup of coffee. If you can begin your day with some self-care, it will make it easier to be emotionally resilient when you do read or watch the day’s news.
4. Decide how you can help.
Probably the most important way you can deal with depressing news is to find a way to take action. We all have unique and important gifts that can change the world. What are the ways you can respond to a natural disaster or a troubling political story? Maybe you can offer shelter or a donation to people in need or you could organize or participate in a rally or political action group. Whatever your gifts are, find a way to use them for good and in response to the news that troubles you most. As Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Let’s be the helpers.