Our newsfeed is constantly updating us about stressful, dramatic and traumatic events. Whether it is international wars or national politics, something is always going on that will cause us anxiety.
The anxiety we feel from stressful current events is tough because we often feel helpless to do anything about it, so the feelings simply fester. So, what can we do with this kind of anxiety? It can be tough!
If we ignore the anxiety it is still there and we simply feel more anxious over time.
On the other hand, if we worry about the situations, the anxiety grows and grows.
Let me offer you five tools for dealing with the stress of current events.
How to stress of current events:
These tools give us things we CAN do, and if we can do something it helps us feel better. Not only that, but these can actually help.
Do something small
Small things add up!
Find a legitimate organization that is supporting the actual people who are being affected by the concerning current event. Make a $3 or $5 donation whenever it fits your budget. If everyone does small things, it will make a huge difference for the people you are concerned about.
If you do not have the ability to donate, write an email of encouragement to someone or to an organization that works on the current-event situation.
Write your elected officials
Send an email to one or all of your elected officials. You do not need to say a lot, just tell them how you feel about the current event. (Unless you are a subject-matter expert, you do not need to write a long email about it.)
Your elected officials have staff that keep tabs on what is important to their constituents. The more folks that contact them, the more they understand that they should do something about the situation.
Limit your exposure to the news
News organizations make their money by selling ads. They sell more ads when more people read or watch them, so during stressful current events, many news outlets amplify the situations with clickbait headlines or anxiety producing wordage.
They know that the more worried people are about a situation, the more they will watch or read their news!
Unfortunately, engaging in lots of news consumption can make you more anxious- and it can become addictive. Try to limit your news consumption to once or twice a day and even take a day off each week. Your body and brain will thank you for it.
For people of faith, this is an important thing to do. This may sound cheesy or frustrating because we can pray and not feel like it is doing anything to help. However, we followers of Christ have instructions in 1 Timothy 2:1-2:
“I urge, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
It is something you CAN do and you do have instructions to do so.
If every person of faith also prayed about the situation, what kinds of good things might just happen?
Notice the good in the world
Try not to let a day go by without stopping to notice three good things:
Something beautiful in nature (a sunset, a daffodil, a tree budding)
Something kind or good that someone else did. (Remember the story Mr. Rogers told:
“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.”
Something good in your life (you woke up today, you have the power to wish someone well)
Noticing the good helps keep your body and brain healthy, even in stressful times.
Bonus thing you can do: Talk to your counselor
What you are feeling and thinking matters. It helps to talk about it with your counselor!
We cannot make the stressful current events simply disappear, but there are some things we can do to stay healthy and actually help.