current affairs and your mental health
As a society, we consume news more than ever before, with 24-hour broadcasts and constant streams on social media. Reports from war zones leave many people feeling distressed, even from thousands of miles away. This also leads to feelings of helplessness, as there is little we can do from afar.
You can find updates on current affairs and news anywhere you go and wherever you are. It’s on your phone, it’s in newspapers, you hear people talking about it and all of this makes difficult to avoid. Emotions can change so much when consuming news and the unpredictability of what happens in current affairs means you might be happy, sad, angry or confused.
How to engage with news
Take a break
We all want to stay informed and be compassionate to what other people are facing in the world. We may even feel guilty if we are not giving the situation our full attention, mentally and emotionally.
This can take a serious toll on our minds, and it’s important we take breaks from the news to look after our mental health. Whether that’s for an hour, a day, a week, or longer if necessary.
It can be particularly helpful to take a break at the start and end of our day, as our minds can be more sensitive to the information we receive.
Doomscrolling is when we spend an excessive amount of time absorbing negative news, which after a period of time can intensify fear and anxiety. To avoid this, only look at the news at certain times of the day for a limited duration and try not to break this routine.
Do something relaxing after consuming news
After consuming lots of news, our mind and body can feel heavy with tension and stress. A new activity helps manage the stress so we don’t feel heavy all day. Movement, fresh air, social activities and calming breathing techniques can help with this. Read our resource on how to improve your wellbeing.
Be conscious of the content you consume
It’s important to monitor how much we consume graphic or violent content which may be triggering to our mental health. It’s also important to consume news from trusted publications to avoid any alarmist speculation. A useful tool when assessing whether a news story is trustworthy, is The Share Checklist.
Be mindful of notifications and social media
Notifications and news streams on social media can make it difficult to take breaks from the news. Consider changing notification settings on your phone so you can choose when to be updated with news. Monitor which social media sites provide the most news coverage and limit time on these sites when necessary.
You can change your settings to limit how long you spend on certain apps and it might be wise to use techniques to prevent you from checking your phone every few minutes, which means you can focus on more important tasks.
What can you do to help?
When we feel overwhelmed, it helps to focus on the things we can control. Helping people in your community independently or with a charity can remind us that we have the power to make a positive impact, no matter how small. It might help to switch your phone off, do physical activities when anxious about current affairs or socialise with friends.
Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.
Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.