From a divisive US election to constant headlines about Coronavirus and the ongoing climate crisis, the news has felt pretty overwhelming over the last few months.
As someone who has long-suffered from high functioning anxiety and gets to interview psychologists for a living, I've spent lots of my time mining them for tips that can soothe those seriously anxious moments. You know, the ones that are often brought on by circumstances outside of our control such as hard-to-process news headlines.
Last year, I spoke to Dr Perpetua Neo – a London-based psychologist and career coach – about overcoming Brexit anxiety for Red's sister site, ELLE. And three of the tips she shared stuck with me. If you're currently finding yourself feeling anxious about the news, they might well help you too:
ASK YOURSELF THESE THREE QUESTIONS
'When people are anxious, typically I ask them three questions: "Is the problem controllable? Is the problem realistic? Is the problem solvable?"' Dr Neo told me. 'Obviously worrying about [the news] is realistic, but sometimes we over-inflate the realism in our head. So it becomes bigger than we think it is. And in terms of controllable, yes it’s not 100 percent controllable but what bits of it can I control? Have a game plan for that.'
TRY TO STOP JUDGING YOURSELF
'The human brain is wired to recognise threats,' Dr Neo said. 'If you find yourself judging yourself, wondering why you are so stupid for worrying about [the news], be kind to yourself. These are tough times, uncertain times. Nobody likes uncertainty... So of course your threat brain is going to be on high alert – stop judging yourself for that. What you'll realise when you stop berating yourself is that it’s a lot easier to cope with life because you are allowing yourself to be human.'
CONSIDER HOW MUCH NEWS YOU'RE WATCHING
'When people are anxious, one of the first things I ask is, "How much news are you watching?"' Dr Neo explained. 'The way that programmes are channeled and funnelled, it leads you from one piece of bad news to another piece of bad news. It’s horrendous.
'People who are anxious tend to watch a lot of stuff which exacerbates and confirms their worst fears. For instance, my clients who are scared of crime, they tend to watch a lot of Crimewatch. I’m not saying pretend things don’t exist, no that is not a wise thing to do, but what are you doing that fuels your fears, unnecessarily?'
If you're feeling anxious, talking to a qualified counsellor can help. Find one local to you, via the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy website. You can also find more information and support on Anxiety UK's website.
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