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If the steady stream of sad news is affecting your mental health, please be reassured that you are not alone. In our ever more connected world, it’s really hard to shield ourselves from the constant barrage of horrifying stories. Whether you have an existing mental health issue or not, it’s overwhelming, and it’s not good. At the same time, none of us has the option of completely disconnecting from the world, either. That’s not realistic or sustainable. Here are some tips for reaching a happy medium of mental health.
1. Go on a media diet.
A media diet is simply choosing to closely regulate how much time we spend consuming news. This does not mean burying our heads in the sand. You can still read the news, just monitor how much time you spend doing so. Many phones have functions that you can use to limit your time on whatever apps you choose. Try to avoid “doomscrolling,” where you just keep scrolling deeper and deeper through one depressing news headline after the other. This kind of behavior will inundate your mind with terrible news and won’t give you a chance to process it. It’s like constantly picking a scab and never giving it a chance to heal.
2. Pick up hobbies.
When you start limiting the amount of time you spend scrolling, you’ll discover a lot of new free time. One of the best ways to spend free time is on a hobby. Hobbies provide an opportunity to work hard on something without a monetary goal or outside driving force. They can challenge you and you can learn through them. They provide an outlet for creativity and personal expression. A hobby can be almost anything you want it to be. They are anything you enjoy doing, such as cooking, painting, walking, or reading. They are not a means to an end. Instead, they are the end themselves.
Volunteer work is another great way to spend newfound free time. Giving back to those in need offers a great way to make the world around you a better place. Any community has opportunities for volunteer work. It could be cooking and providing food to the under-served, working at an animal shelter, or visiting the sick or elderly. If you’ve never volunteered, you may be surprised at how rewarding it is to help others in need.
4. Practice mindfulness, religion, or spirituality.
Religious and spiritual belief systems offer people sources of hope and peace. Rituals, prayer, meditation, and philosophical conversation provide ways of processing the parts of our world that we find challenging. There is no “right” system of beliefs or practices, either. Whatever you find most helpful is the one for you. Some believe in an external higher power while others believe that the answers we seek about the worlds’ complexity can be found within ourselves.
5. See a therapist.
If you’ve tried some of these mental health tips and still find it hard to process the difficult questions of our world, find someone to talk to. Whether you have a previously diagnosed mental health condition or not, talking to a therapist can always be helpful. Being in a room with a therapist gives us the chance to talk through our emotions in the presence of an objective listener. Expressing our feelings like this is the central tenet of supportive therapy and will be helpful for almost anyone.