The bad news just keeps on coming these days whether it’s the war in Ukraine, mass shootings in America, Roe v. Wade being potentially overturned or the rise in cases of Monkey Pox. As I write this article the South Asian community is grieving the loss of Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala who was murdered in India. 

Not only is the bad news plentiful, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to detach from everything that is happening in the world. There is also a sense of guilt that comes with detachment— if we’re not present for the pain of others, if we’re not staying informed, then what does that say about us as individuals?

Last week was especially heavy because of the mass shooting in Texas. 

As a parent, I didn’t want to see the faces of the young victims but I also couldn’t turn away. It was disorienting to both want to read everything about the shooting and at the same time wanting nothing more than to throw my phone into the marsh behind my house and feign oblivion. 

Sometimes we need reassurance and validation that it’s okay to not have space for everything that is happening in the world. I want to remind you that it doesn’t make you a less empathetic person if you turn away from the news, shut off your phone and set boundaries in conversations regarding the state of the world.

You are paying an emotional tax everytime you give energy to something that is heightening your anxiety and causing you pain. It’s more than okay to take a step back and care for your mental health. 

The state of the world is a lot to process these days and as a therapist and mom who is tired and anxious like many of you, here are some ways to consider processing the news:

  • Turn off your phone. Whether it’s the news app or the social media posts calling for change— it can all be triggering. Turn it off when you feel drained, anxious, sad, overwhelmed etc. . If you have the will power, delete the news app or turn it on do not disturb.
  • Check in with yourself when you’re speaking with friends, coworkers and family. Is the focus of the conversation on the news? Do you leave these conversations feeling drained? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, it’s time to come up with other topics of conversation and to set some boundaries with those who only want to talk about just the bad in the world.
  • Actively think about the good in your life. Research shows neurons that wire together fire together and if we’re constantly obsessing about the bad news, talking about the bad news and reading about the bad news, our brains begin to think that this level of anxiety is normal. How can we break these patterns? Practice gratitude, share some good news with your loved ones and spend time outdoors.
  • Think about what makes you happy and integrate it into your day. Do you like books? Great, re-read a book you love. Do you like to exercise? Awesome, go for a walk once a day. Do you enjoy spending time on your phone? Fine, no problem, find a good podcast or Audible and use your phone to connect with yourself. When things feel heavy in the world it’s natural to feel drained and sad and more important than ever to start thinking about what brings you joy in your life and how often you are actually doing these things.

I get that you want to be in the know and you want to stay informed, but I don’t think you need me telling you that taking in this level of bad news isn’t good for your mental health. Bad news will come and go regardless of whether you read it. The world will keep on spinning. You don’t need to be present and tuned in to everything all the time. Remember, there is an emotional cost to being this invested in bad news so be kind to yourself, take a break when you need it and be mindful of your mental health.

About the author

Manjot Mann

My name is Manjot Mann and I am a mom, counsellor and writer. I have my undergraduate degree in Criminology/Psychology and a Masters in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University. As a child I wanted to be a superhero, specifically Sailor Moon. As an adult I found there was no one like Sailor Moon running around in cute shoes saving people from monsters and so I took a desk job and hung up my imaginary cape. When I became a mom and fought my own demons, I realized I needed a career change. As a counsellor I help people with real and imagined monsters. As a writer I bring awareness to the fact that monsters exist and that there is a whole lot of superhero in all of us.

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