Why are you reading a gardening magazine? No offence, but Jamie Durie you are not.
It's a coping mechanism. I've been avoiding the news headlines lately. It's sad - I love newspapers, but it's very hard to read about the world right now.
Sounds like you have 'headline stress disorder.' It's American therapist Steven Stosny's term for our collective anxiety and sadness about terrible world events.
But isn't it self-indulgent to feel anxious from afar when you're not actually involved in the terrible events?
It's the way we're wired. Humans are social creatures designed for empathy, and if others are suffering, we feel bad too. Without feelings, we'd be chatbots. The human brain also doesn't cope well with uncertainty - and we've been living with that for more than two years now. No wonder we're all a bit wobbly.
True: uncertainty is the new certainty. So - what do we do?
First of all, understand that your stress is natural. And that women can be more susceptible. According to a Canadian study, we're better than men at remembering negative news for longer periods, and we also have more persistent physiological reactions after being exposed to bad news. In a nutshell: we take the bad stuff on board.
But I want to stay informed. I don't want to cancel my newspapers and surrender to reality TV.
Nor should you. But you can manage your reactions to world events.
Balance the harrowing stories with others about more positive aspects of human nature. Reading about arts and culture, education and even sport can remind you that we're not a completely irredeemable species. And even amid wars and disasters, you'll find rescuers, humanitarians, compassion and generosity. Newspapers tell those stories too.
Remember not to overlook them.
How about that awful feeling of helplessness in the face of all that suffering?
Two words: do something. While you can't change world events, there's always some small way to make a difference. And it's a win-win. Various studies tell us that helping others can reduce the giver's stress levels and build resilience. Whether you donate to refugee causes, volunteer with the Red Cross, or even support an unrelated local cause, altruism of any sort is an awesome antidote to anxiety.
Helping beats hopelessness. That's the best news I've heard all day.
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