Watch too much bad news

The news about terror attacks #London Bridge #Brighton Siege #We Stand with Manchester has seemed particularly grim lately. On Sunday I watched the London Bridge attack and saw people take cover under tables in a restaurant at London Bridge. It left me feeling like I was there. The panic, confusion and chaos was visceral on the screen.

Monday came and there was the reports about the Brighton siege, a few suburbs away from my home. ¬†In Melbourne, we have been so fortunate, wars used to happen over there somewhere, didn’t they?

It is the frequency of terror attacks in places that are so relatable to me, that are reported instantly and widely that makes it even more troubling.  I get a ping on my iPad when I am in the kitchen making coffee, I jump in the car and hear the story interrupting as breaking news, I pick up my phone to check my messages and my news feed provides, even more, details yet again.

If I lived in Pakistan maybe my experience right now would be very different. We are so lucky having not lived on the front line of a war zone.

However, the unfiltered nature of graphic content that we get exposed to every day challenges our brain. If you are fortunate enough to recognise you are someone that is prone to feeling stressed out and anxious you need to be increasingly aware of the impact the news is having on you. We are living in times that require you to up your self-management.

Fear and your brain

Your brain on constant fear is not at all healthy for your nervous system. Stress and anxiety are the signs you may be living with a system on high alert.

Fear, ¬†a lifesaving instinct, floods your system with damaging hormones that can harm you when they are constantly switched on. This can affect the way you think and change the decisions you make. Terrorists want us to be full of fear so they use the psychological warfare component of this, it is capitalising on the knowledge that people are hard-wired to respond to danger. It’s actually an ancient system, ¬†referred to as the lizard or reptilian part of your brain.

Unfortunately, in these times we are being told to ‘see something, say something.’ So now people scan the environment and look for things that don’t seem right. ¬†Some people may obsess and then develop habits and rituals to ward off bad things. That can be watching TV over and over again to get more information, reading all you can in the media, and all of this is an effort to prevent a bad thing happening.

How do you know you need to take a break from the news?

Watching terror attacks unfold on your device is the last thing you need to consume constantly if you are already feeling anxious. Your world view often narrows when you feel stressed, I say avoid further shrinkage at all costs!

Signs you need to watch out for:

Does it leave you feeling:

  1. Drained or exhausted
  2. Sad and disillusioned
  3. Anxious and fearful
  4. Helpless and hopeless

Do you find yourself:

  1. Watching attacks and updates obsessively
  2. Scanning your environments for threat often
  3. Thinking about what you would do in that situation frequently

Practical Tips

How can you look after yourself better and still keep informed?

  1. Use choice Рfilter your news watching carefully. Turn off notifications, deliberately put on some music in the car,  mindfully decide what and when to consume information
  2. If something random pops up on a screen you can instantly reduce the impact of it by choosing where you focus your eyes, you can use your alert system to react to protect yourself from overexposure to bad news
  3. If you decide you need to be informed, steeling yourself for graphic coverage or turning away if it is getting too much
  4. Deep Breaths – this sounds so basic, but we shallow breathe when anxious and just taking a few deep slow breaths helps heaps
  5. Deliberately seek out the good news stories on social media like these two great feel good ones listed below.

Benefits of selective news filtering

  1. Control
  2. Preparation for graphic imagery
  3. Time to reflect on what is important
  4. Opportunity to deflect to more positive interactions, content or activities to rebalance and replenish
  5. The good news: Most of us don’t let the coverage get to us too much

How to know when you are ready to absorb more?

You are feeling:

  1. Curious
  2. Relaxed
  3. Re-invigorated
  4. Positive
Horgan, the author of “The Psychology of Terrorism.” ¬†describes how “We actually return to normal pretty quickly. It’s very difficult for a terrorist movement, even one as powerful as the Islamic State, to maintain a constant level of fear and anxiety in the audience.”Also, most of us know we can speed up our healing by seeking support and connections within our community. A touching example of this recently was the young man who filmed himself after the Manchester attack with a sign saying “I am a Muslim I trust you if you trust me give me a hug.” People lined up to give him a hug and say you are not alone. Very touching and heartwarming, humanity showing empathy and restoring our faith in others.

If your anxiety is getting too hard to handle and you need more help call for professional support on 0412533590 or book online.

Experiment by clicking on these good news stories to feel good right now:

All the good in the world:

Ten good news stories: