Self Care Tips for when there’s ongoing traumatic news

February 13, 2020

2020 was full of so much promise.  A fresh new decade all sparkling clean and new!

It has though, been rough so far.  Here in Australia there’s been the ongoing relentless drought, all the dreadful bushfires, now torrential rain and flooding (plus throw in a possible cyclone or two) and then there is the global crisis of Coronavirus (first reported in Wuhan, China).

TV and social media is full of ‘deadly’ this and ‘unprecedented’ that and this does start to have an impact on our mental health.  It is psychologically proven that constant exposure to bad/frightening/traumatic news can not only affect our mood but can trigger anxiety, fear, panic and even depression.

Obviously those directly impacted by these events endure unimaginable trauma, but there is also trauma caused by constant exposure to these kind of news reports and articles.  Social media means that exposure is not just the 6pm news and a daily newspaper anymore. It’s at our fingertips 24/7 as we are nearly all glued to our smart phones during our waking hours these days. 

So what can we do to help protect ourselves? 

Tips on how to protect yourself from over exposure to ongoing traumatic news:

  • Switch off your TV – don’t be drawn in to watching the same catastrophic/unprecedented/traumatic news on repeat over and over.
  • Stop the scrolling. Switch off your phone. Take a break from social media.
  • Avoid watching TV or scrolling social media on your phone just before bed as what you see and/or read may affect your ability to sleep and good sleep is important for your wellbeing.
  • Do something nice for yourself – e.g. soak in a bath, meet a friend for coffee or lunch.
  • Remember to eat well and drink plenty of water – keep your body healthy!
  • Continue on with life as usual – don’t let life grind to halt and overwhelm take over.  Breathe!
  • Get in touch with how you’re feeling.  It might help talking with friends and/or relatives or perhaps seeing a therapist might be helpful. Either way – don’t push your feelings down or ignore them – take note of them and find a way to process them that suits you.
  • Get involved. We can often suffer ‘survivor guilt’ for not being directly affected by the trauma that we are seeing and reading about in the media. We can feel helpless. What can help with this is to get involved … but only to the level that is appropriate for you. For example – donate money, volunteer your time to help out where possible, use your talents to assist – eg for the bushfires – knitting, sewing, crocheting for the injured wildlife.

Remember the saying ‘we can’t pour from an empty cup’ – well that applies in this circumstance as well. We must look after ourselves in order to be any help to others.  Whilst we’re on the topic of quotes – take note of the Rumi quote in the image above as it basically provides the same message.  Taking care of ourselves is not selfish.  It is essential.

… and hey, Happy Valentines day for tomorrow!  Make sure you do something fun for yourself whether you have a significant other to do it with or not.  Go out for dinner, grab takeaway, or go for a nice walk out in nature.  If it’s torrential rain (like it has been where I live lately) maybe opt for a soak in a lovely warm bath followed by dinner and a movie! Do at least one nice thing just for you – cos I say so, ok!

Ciao for now,

 

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24 Comments

  • Reply Joanne Tracey February 13, 2020 at 8:49 am

    You know what, I truly feel a tad overwhelmed with all of this to the extent that I’m having difficulty watching the news, reading the news and I’m staying off Facebook other than to skim through for fear of seeing something else I don’t want to see or know about. That Rumi quote is very apt at the moment.

    • Reply Min February 13, 2020 at 2:55 pm

      I am exactly the same Jo … which is why I was prompted to write a post on this topic.

  • Reply Natalie February 13, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    These are very good tips, Min. I like the last five points on your list. I haven’t watched TV for many years. Happy Valentine’s Day and weekend to you and your loved ones. #lovin’lifelinky

    • Reply Min February 13, 2020 at 2:56 pm

      Thanks Natalie. I’m amazed at how you can go years without watching TV. Happy Valentines Day to you to and have a fabulous weekend. xo

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au February 13, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Min, social media and the internet are amazing in the way they connect us to the world and the immediacy they offer in terms of keeping us up to date with world events, but you’re right about them impacting on our mental health too. I stay away from news steams and any type of SM that feeds my anxiety or affects my self esteem.
    I like to know what’s going on in the world and I like to help where I can, but being bombarded 24/7 isn’t healthy and we do need to make sure we’re looking after ourselves in the process.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    • Reply Min February 13, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      I agree with all that you’ve said. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with it all and have had to withdraw somewhat to protect myself. This is what prompted me to write a post on this topic. xo

  • Reply christine February 13, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Yes, you’re absolutely right. It’s been a really tough start to the year for thousands of people and there are many who are struggling mentally as a result. Lifeline and other similar services are struggling to cope with the increased need for their services so your tips are very important. While I haven’t been personally affected by fire (just smoke and the threat of it) or disease, I’ve certainly been feeling quite depressed and anxious about the state of our world and I know many who feel the same. It’s the reason I’m putting my energy into doing something positive to inform people about climate change and urge action. It’s the only thing keeping me sane.

    • Reply Min February 18, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Christine – I can understand your feeling quite depressed and anxious about the state of our world as I’ve been much the same. I worry about what is in store for my kids and their kids and so on. Good on you for getting involved in action on climate change. Here’s hoping that the rest of 2020 is less drama and worry filled. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones February 13, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I agree with you Min. I’ve also been overwhelmed by all the dreadful news. Lately I’ve stopped mindlessly scrolling. Hopefully there will be a glut of good news coming soon #MLSTL Sharing

    • Reply Min February 18, 2020 at 3:19 pm

      I’ve been overwhelmed by all the awful news too Jennifer so felt a post on the topic was warranted as I was sure I wasn’t alone! I’ll be looking for all the good news to come! xo

  • Reply Debbie Harris February 13, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Min, you’re right in all you say. It’s been a very stressful time and our town has been affected by the fire. I’ve found that after the initial flow of goodwill it’s now turning a bit real with people getting cranky, upset, negative and lacking in goodwill at times. Not everyone but enough to make it upsetting. It’s bad enough seeing all the bad news on the media but we need to be kind to everyone. I found while we were overseas at the height fo the fires we were addicted to social media, which wasn’t a good thing! It’s settled down now but it’s hard to switch off. I have shared for #mlstl and joined in your Lovin’ Life linky.

    • Reply Debbie Harris February 18, 2020 at 1:22 pm

      I’ve linked to this in my latest post about social media and self care, thanks for your words Min! #lifethisweek

      • Reply Min February 18, 2020 at 3:26 pm

        Thanks so much Deb – I’m honoured to have been mentioned in your post and to have a link to my post in there. I have just been over for a read and have left a comment. xo

    • Reply Min February 18, 2020 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Deb, I knew that your little town had been affected. I was so relieved that your home was spared, especially as you were O/S and unable to get in there and save anything befoe the fires came! That’s so sad to hear about people getting cranky and negative etc. Human nature can be tricky can’t it? During the height of the bushfires I found myself drawn to the TV watching the same horrific scenes over and over and could feel my mental health being affected. I knew I had to stop watching it. Didn’t mean I didn’t care. I did … a lot. I know I’m not alone at having been overwhelmed by all the horrible news lately which is why I thought a post on the topic would be a good idea. Thanks so much for sharing it! xo

  • Reply suzanne February 14, 2020 at 4:53 am

    Good advice Min, add to all that, we in the US have another contentious Presidential election coming up and the media coverage is non-stop and nasty! Actually, it’s been that way for the past twenty years or so….I can’t relate to the fires you all have experienced, but I do know a thing or two about the aftermath of hurricanes. It takes time, patience and bucket loads of kindness. P.S. Natalie does not have time to watch TV. Have you read her blog????

    • Reply Min February 18, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Suzanne – yes we see quite a bit of the US political stuff over here! Have to admit alot of it goes over my head. I can barely keep up with Aussie politics let alone another countries 😉 Yes we know about hurricanes here too though they’re called cyclones here. Yes I read Natalies blog and I know she hasn’t watched TV in a long time! xo

  • Reply betty - NZ February 15, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    These are some fabulous tips. I think you saved the best for last because you always feel better after you help someone else 🙂

    Feel free to share at My Corner of the World

    • Reply Min February 18, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Very true! Thank you Betty! xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan February 19, 2020 at 7:16 pm

    I so get this Min. I do think many of us not directly affected by any of the above issues are still suffering if we have a tendency towards anxiety and concern. This is/was me. I literally had to stop some of my time on SM (twitter actually) during the worst of the NSW fires. I was so angry with the PM. I notice too, my anxiety is a little up and my confidence a little down so it could be as a result of our very drawn out time of awfulness that started back in Sept/Oct 2019!

    Here’s the more self care and being better aware of our own triggers.

    Thank you for being part of Life This Week. Next Week’s optional prompt is 8/51 Unusual 23/2/2020. Hope to see you link up again too! Denyse.

    • Reply Min February 22, 2020 at 9:05 am

      Denyse I knew you’d ‘get’ this … yes anxiety has skyrocketed for me and for many others I know with all the recent and ongoing traumatic news and so I had to stop or at least reduce my exposure to it. Self Care is so important at times like this, as you know. xoxo

  • Reply Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit February 20, 2020 at 3:08 am

    Around 12 years ago I stopped watching news. It was banned in our home. The kids did not grow up with it on because of my need for self preservation. I realised it was making me worry about that which I could not change. To this day we are not news watchers. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not ignorant. We just choose positivity. We choose to scroll or watch at times of the day where we are best able to process the information without it impacting on our mental health. Not first thing in the morning. Not at dinner time at witching hour. Not right before bed. You’re right …. in times of trauma, it’s the best way to preserve our own ability to cope.

    • Reply Min February 22, 2020 at 9:03 am

      I think I may have to do the same thing Leanne. No more watching the news. I think I will scroll headlines to keep up with current affairs and only click on those that interest me to read. I honestly can’t cope with all the traumatic news of late. xo

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan February 21, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    Min, such wise words. I could stare at the news for endless hours. Seeing the same thing on replay over and over. For example, the mass shooting in El Paso in August. I could hardly bare to leave the TV to go to the bathroom. My husband was with me on watching the news reports for awhile but then he wanted to put on a movie, watch something that we would normally watch. For me, it seemed like we might miss something, almost like we were being disrespectful of our ‘neighbors’ here in El Paso that had endured this tragedy personally.
    I need to remember…ALL things in moderation. This post really resonated with me. Thank you.

    • Reply Min February 22, 2020 at 8:53 am

      Thanks Leslie. I know what you mean. I was glued to the TV with the awful bushfires we’ve had here … until I could feel my mental health being affected. I was highly anxious, forlorn, depressed. It’s very hard to see your much loved country burning like that … on repeat and repeat and repeat. I had to switch off. I still cared but I was getting too traumatised. xoxo

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