top of page
  • Writer's pictureLauren

Turn off the news!

The world is getting worse. It was never like this before. Everything is going downhill. It wasn't like this in my day. What has happened to the world??

Rubbish, all of it.

The world has always, always had equally good and equally bad things happening. War? Financial crisis? Racism and prejudice? Political disasters? They have always been painfully, abundantly present. It's easy to look back with nostalgia and feel a sense of safety and security, and feel anxious at the unknown of today and of the future. But the truth is, it's not the state of the world that has changed per se, but how much we are hearing about it.

We don't have to wait days for the papers to roll off the press anymore. Events are recorded and shared live, as they happen, right across the world. Whether it be via 24 hour dedicated news channels, straplines flashing up on our phone screens, or social media showing us what's happening from a hundred difficult angles and perspectives.

With news so easy to find, and with increasingly new ways to find it, journalists are fighting for space in an over-crowded market. They only want the most interesting, most alarmist, and most shocking things to write about. Noone is going to click on their articles if it's what they've already read many times before. That's fine for them, but what about for us? What is the real impact of our brain being constantly bombarded with catastrophic information and scare tactics?

These are just a few of the headlines about the 'cost of living crisis' that I read today...

Children could die of hyperthermia.

Young people's social lives being destroyed.

Third of teachers struggling to afford food.

The future is bleak.

We don't know where to turn.

We only make one meal for everyone.

It's scary - things are escalating fast.

Catastrophic impact on cancer patients.

Alarm over college drop-outs.

Families struggle to bury loved ones.

Even knowing that I'm writing this to show how headlines can be used to incite anxiety, I felt some anxiety when browsing them! It's hard not to, when words are being used such as 'alarm, escalate, struggle, catastrophic, destroyed.' In the space of a few minutes, it's easy to go from 'I need to make sure I don't have my heating on all the time this winter' to 'life is going to be ruined, nothing will ever be the same again, and people will starve and die.' Immediately our minds go all over the place, often straight to the worst case scenario possible.

The best way to conquer anxious thoughts and catastrophising in times like these, is to go back to facts and evidence. Stick to the basics and ignore everything else around it. Look for the most reputable, fact-based sources and avoid opinion pieces and comment sections like the plague. If something actually affects your immediate life, take notice and take action. If it doesn't, walk away from it.

Many moons ago, I worked with someone who had moved to England from South Africa. She told me something I've never forgotten. At a time when knife crime was seemingly rife in London, and the constant headlines were making me nervous, my colleague was very blunt with me. She said that the only time I needed to worry about knife crime, was when it was too common to be reported on. In South Africa, murders are so out of control that they rarely even make the news. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed or get upset by a truly tragic incident that has happened, I remember this advice, and my thoughts immediately settle again. It's only in the news because it's so rare.

If facts, evidence, and the knowledge that journalists are purposefully trying to shock and scare you by reporting on the most unusual, rare and terrifying information available, isn't enough to help calm your anxiety, then there is only one answer left.

Sometimes, the only answer is to just turn off the news.

"But people are suffering, why should I ignore it? Doesn't that make me selfish?"

It's awful that people are suffering. We should definitely not be ignorant to the big issues that people are facing in the world. However, there is only a limited amount we can do. We can donate money, raise awareness and make useful changes in our own lives. However, we can't take on everyone's problems as our own, we just can't. If we did, we would never manage to get out of bed, or live ourselves. Be aware but don't obsess over the details and don't take the pain on as your own. It won't help and it's not the answer. Ultimately, if anxiety about the news is starting to affect you, walk away and get on with your life.

Lauren x


bottom of page