How to Practice Self-Care in the Face of Triggering Headlines

Things have been pretty grim in the news these past few months, and you may be finding it difficult to maintain an optimistic outlook. Here are a few ways to practice self-care in these trying times. 

1. Recognize and remedy “bad news” bias.

Crisis, sensationalism and catastrophe sells newspapers and garners website clicks. While feel-good stories sometimes attract our attention, the mainstream media thrives on the fact that people who are upset are more likely to keep buying and clicking. But there is good news out there — you just have to find it.

While your skin might crawl at headlines like “You’ll never believe what X did next,” you can avoid  click-bait and focus on good news stories. For example, Positive News aims to play an affirming role in how media shapes society by giving a voice to the positive work going on in our communities at the local and national level.

Similar sites, like GoodNewsNetwork, can help offer reassurance that the picture of fear, hatred and violence we are constantly fed in many news stories is, in fact, only a selection of world events. In reality, there are encouraging tales too.

Add these outlets to your daily diet of news consumption to promote variety and correct the bad news bias.

Also, if you’d like somewhere to start with uplifting news, don’t forget to look out for our Care2 Success Stories, in which Care2 members have brought about inspiring changes and advanced vital causes.

2. Take control to ward off triggers.

I have a daily battle with anxiety and also suffer from cyclical depression. That said, certain topics can “trigger” depressive episodes and raise anxiety levels. Given the incoming Trump administration – and the general wave of fear that has spread across much of the West — it is especially important that we manage the content that we are exposed to.

While getting a daily dose of positive news alongside our normal headlines can help with this effort, there’s one place where negativity and “trolling” can thrive: social media. And the solution is to curate or control what we see in those feeds.

The strategy is especially useful at times of stress when our energy may already be depleted. In particular, you may wish to use the mute function on sites like Twitter, or control who sees what you post on Facebook, to avoid reading upsetting comments.

This is not about avoiding discussions but ensuring that as a short-term measure you are free to engage in your online life free of anxiety or distress.

For example, while I work with and advocate for LGBT rights, at the moment I am finding it difficult to deal with the stories of violence and suicide that have emerged since election night. Thus, I have quietly taken a step back from those news stories — not because I do not care, but because I care so much that I am no longer able to use my voice effectively.

As a result, I am purposefully choosing to explore other issues where I can be effective. I fully intend to return to the deeply important issue of youth suicide and self harm when I feel mentally stronger, but I cannot be an advocate if I don’t take care of myself first.

Other suggestions you might consider to help protect yourself from material you find upsetting at this stressful time include:

  • Turning off video autoplay on websites by using a web extension or by manually turning videos off, which can be especially useful on news sites that feature distressing stories
  • Whittling down your news sources to a few trusted media outlets that provide facts, not sensationalism
  • Turning off news and social media notifications on your mobile phone to give yourself room to breathe

3. Unplug and reconnect.

These days, few of us have the ability to stay away from our online lives for very long. Whether it’s because we rely on computers at work, or because social media is a vital part of how we communicate, stepping away from the internet for an extended period probably isn’t possible — and for many of us, isn’t desirable either.

The problem is, our connectivity means we are also constantly just one alert away from a depressing news story.

I have made an effort to stay away from most social media and completely away from news headlines for one day every week — usually Saturday. Does this mean I am ignorant of what is going on in the world? Certainly not.

If something important arises, I will usually hear about it through friends or loved ones. And if I can’t devote an entire day to unplugging, I simply try to carve out as much time as I can through the week.

Snatching time to exercise or pursue a hobby has been key to replenishing my mental energy.

On a final note, it’s also vital to remain aware of when we must take longer breaks. If you are feeling constantly anxious or have experienced several low energy days in a row, it is time to seek the help of your doctor. By staying on top of your mental health in this way, you can prevent any potential conditions from escalating further.

Life never stops, but that doesn’t mean you have to run at everyone else’s pace. Take care of yourself so that when you do want to connect with an issue in the news, you can do so with all your strength. That’s not self-indulgent — it’s part of being a healthy and effective agent of change.

Do you have any self-care tips? Please let us know in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Christopher Sardegna/Unsplash

55 comments

Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook2 years ago

Thank you.

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Marie W
Marie W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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chris b
chris B2 years ago

Oh yes, information overload is a MAJOR stress factor. But - I listen to what DT says and who he wants to appoint and I want to throw up. It is all him. News channels just regurgitate info.And you know news, they love to put fear in our hearts. I do enjoy Chris Cuomo on CNN in the a.m. Actually, like his dad more. Oh well, hope we all survive the next 4 years. Hope to God it's no longer. I fear the next 100 days. Watch out wildlife, watch out insured people, watch out rivers for oil spills, watch out land for fracking chemicals, watch out China, watch out Russia, watch out Muslims/blacks/hispanics, watch your packetbook everyone . . . .

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Linda D
Linda D2 years ago

Great article, I am watching and reading less news all the time. Too much information overload wherever you go on the internet.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

noted

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Janne O
Janne O2 years ago

ROFL!! Triggering headlines?? OMG what wimps westerners are turning into under the heel of leftists PC BS. It's a disgrace to see how you're undermining our future with such BS. I'm sure those feminists who asked that people not applaud as it "could trigger anxiety" have your nutty approval.

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Marianne R
Marianne R2 years ago

Thank you for posting

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Joan E
Joan E2 years ago

I normally enjoy most of the MSNBC commentators, but when they keep showing Trump, Pence, the latest outrages and newest monstrous appointees, I protect my sanity by turning it off or switching to a more calming, innocuous channel as I perform my daily tasks.

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Rachel L
Past Member 2 years ago

I really don't think we need any more anxious, depressed, and ineffective people, so I say do whatever works for your own personal mental health. At the same time, I wonder - Have you never heard adversity builds character? How are you ever going to get stronger if you avoid disturbing information and negative feelings?? Moreover, you can't avoid it forever, and that's when a lot of people turn to drugs and alcohol... But again, just wondering aloud, not saying what anybody else should do.

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