What can we do when our news feeds are filled with tragedy?

Worldwide tragedies feel like they’re happening more and more these days. This is likely thanks to social media, 24/7 news broadcasting and the Internet in general which has the power to update us on traumatic events unfolding in real-time.

Following Covid, many of us have been left feeling almost hypervigilant, more attuned to bad/scary/worrying news than before. This can make dealing with a world tragedy even more difficult, even if we aren’t directly affected.

So what can we do when we witness tragedy, injustice and traumatic events?

Let yourself feel your feelings

Give yourself a little space to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Let the tears come, let the anger rise. If you can, pour this out in a healthy way - perhaps writing in a journal or talking it through with a loved one. When we bury negative emotions, they can bubble up when we least expect it.

Zoom in

Once you’ve had some space to feel your feelings, zoom in to where you are right now. Notice where you are, who you’re with, what’s around you. Hopefully you are somewhere safe, so remind yourself of this. Say to yourself “I am safe” and focus on breathing (try this breathing technique). Sometimes when we witness tragedy, our brain reacts as if we’re there, so it’s important to ground ourselves in the present to reiterate that we’re OK.

Zoom out

Now it’s time to zoom out and consider all the good that’s happening in both your world, and the wider world. When bad news floods our feeds, it’s easy to be consumed by it. Take some time to step back and recognise what brilliant things are happening in your life right now to help you tap into gratitude. Then try to expand this to acknowledge the wonderful things happening worldwide to help develop optimism, search for positive news stories online and see what comes up.

Remember you can hold both grief and hope

We are complex beings and can hold complex emotions. If you’ve managed to find a sense of gratitude, optimism and hope by doing the above, remember this is OK. You can still feel grief at the tragedy, you still care. This life isn’t black or white, it’s a rainbow of emotions and we can feel a range at any one time.

Take action

Often when we learn about worldwide tragedies we can feel angry, angry at the injustice of it all. Something that can help this is to take action. This may be by donating to charities to support those affected, giving blood, signing petitions or even spreading the word about the cause. Feeling like you’re doing something to help can make a big difference.

Take care of yourself

If you’re finding the news overwhelming or even triggering, it’s important to take care of yourself. This may mean spending less time online, connecting with loved ones or even speaking with a professional. Do activities that make you feel good and if guilt comes up - remember that your suffering isn’t going to help anyone.

Talk to your kids

If you have children and they’re seeing the same thing you are, chances are they’re going to have questions and concerns. In her article How to help tween and teenage children make sense of world events, counsellor Jennifer Warwick shares some helpful tips on addressing these kinds of events.

If the latest news is affecting your mental health, know that support is available. Visit Counselling Directory to connect with a counsellor today.