3 steps to help you stay sane in a world drowning in bad news

by Toluwanimi Onakoya

Coronavirus killed more than 5,000 people worldwide on Wednesday. Footage of police in America racially profiling and killing a black man went viral on Wednesday. Nigeria recorded her highest number of new COVID 19 cases so far on Wednesday.

It’s a lot of bad news- and that’s just Wednesday. All these constant floods of negative information into our consciousness can be very overwhelming. So how does one cope and stay sane through all this?

News of the murder of George Floyd, an African American man, by the police circulated through the media. Distraught people all over the world reposted the disturbing video of the occurrence condemning the actions of the police and calling for justice for George.

The sensitive video showed the awful way a policeman knelt on George’s neck till he choked and died. This news was just coming at the heels of the recently released video of the racially motivated murder of Ahmaud Arbery by two white men.

Alongside, the news of the rising cases and deaths of coronavirus in the world and Nigeria can easily make one feel worn and tired by the constant outpouring of bad news in the media. These are some simple steps to help you keep your sanity in check in these difficult times.

Limit your screen time

It’s a lot. The heavy feeling of seeing one bad news after another especially during this period where there is so much anxiety concerning the Coronavirus pandemic. Our phones and TV sets are the mediums in which we receive this news. It only makes sense to reduce the amount of time we spend staring into our screens, consuming so much information on a daily. There are simple apps such as In Moment, AntiSocial and Off The Grid that can be used on phones to help regulate the time we spend per app or on our screens in general. While it might seem easy to want to fill the free time and space on our hands by consuming content on our devices, it would help if we made active choices to try to limit the unrestricted flow of information. Set a time for yourself, it could be 30 minutes a day or an hour. Discover your tolerance level and stick with it.

Acknowledge your emotions

While it might seem tempting to completely shut everything off, it is counter-intuitive. The blast of negative headlines might seem like a flood of “bad vibes” and the natural inclination would be to avoid thinking about it but that only leads you to think about it more. In an article by Medical News Today, it is communicated that if one fights the urge to think about bad news, it leads to tension, stress, lethargy and unproductivity. Research done by the University of California, Berkeley, also corroborates this statement and posits that avoiding the confrontation of negative emotions can, in fact, cause you more stress. One must take time to process what they are feeling and promptly identify the emotional reactions one has to the news items one receives.

Get Involved

If you are concerned about the story of George Floyd, sign the petition or donate. If it is the coronavirus situation that’s gotten you bothered, see the ways you can help. Actively engaging in making a positive contribution, can help you channel your negative emotions to a more productive point. By also helping out, you are deflecting the weighty feelings of helplessness that accompany receiving negative news.

While this period consistently seems unbearable with every awful news coming to your attention, it is important to retain control and not crumble under it. Practising mindfulness and meditation also helps. Changing up your activities daily and filling it with other things such as the occasional baking of banana bread, learning a new skill or just reading a book can go a long way in retaining your sanity in this difficult time.


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