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How To Cope With Distressing Things in the News

The news can be very distressing when it’s reporting on big things happening across the world, but there are things you can do to help you cope better when you hear something that is upsetting.

This article is also available in Welsh. I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg – clicia yma

To understand more about the situation in Ukraine, visit our blog What’s Happening Between Russia and Ukraine?

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1. Manage your news intake

If you’re constantly bombarded with sad or worrying news, it can make you feel very low. As much as it’s good to know what’s going on in the world, it’s also great to take breaks to help look after your mental health and emotional wellbeing.

You could try to set a specific time that you’ll look at the news, or promise yourself you won’t check the news in the evenings, for example. If you see something you don’t understand or you’re worried about, talk to someone.

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2. Check your sources

Some news outlets will share information that is most shocking to the viewer. Sometimes this information is misleading as it doesn’t include the whole story.

Remember to be careful when selecting sources of information. Aim to read, watch, or listen to factual pieces backed by evidence from reputable sources rather than dramatic pieces with the snappiest headline. 

Check out our guide What Is Misinformation (Fake News?)

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3. Monitor time spent on social media

Sometimes you might be scrolling on social media and see something distressing. Be aware that even if you didn’t go out looking for news, you’re likely to stumble across it on social media in times like these.

Try to only look on social media when you feel able to do so. You could set a time limit for the social media apps you use. This will restrict your access after a certain amount of time and stop you from scrolling non-stop. Or carry out a social media cleanse  and log out entirely until you feel you can cope better.

You can report anything you see on social media that is upsetting, worrying or spreading misinformation. If someone posts lots of things you find upsetting, you could consider blocking them.

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4. Look after yourself

It’s essential to try and eat well and get a good night’s sleep to help you cope with what’s going on in the world. A little bit of exercise may also be helpful.

Whether at school, college, university, or work, remember to give yourself breaks so you’re not overworking yourself.

Make some dedicated time to practice self-care and do something you enjoy. Focusing on something can distract you for a little while, which can help you feel more able to cope. It could be a jigsaw puzzle, watching an episode of your favourite TV show or reading a book.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to focus on what’s going on around you and ground yourself. A great grounding technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 method (acknowledge 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste).

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5. Get support

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the news, talk to your friends, family, or a trusted adult about how you feel. Sometimes talking about it can lift the weight off your shoulders. For tips on starting a conversation with someone about something worrying you, visit our blog

If you don’t feel you can talk to anyone, you can speak to our friendly advisers here at Meic. We offer free, confidential information, advice and advocacy for people up to 25 in Wales. 

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Related Information

This blog originally appeared on our sister site TheSprout. It was written in March 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine, and the media attention around this. It is important to remember that conflicts are happening worldwide, resulting in destruction, human tragedy and refugees.

If you would like to learn more about what’s happening in Ukraine and why, visit our blog What’s Happening Between Russia and Ukraine?