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How to look after your mental health when surrounded by negative media

It seems as though everywhere we look, there’s a negative news story somewhere. The way the media permeates our whole lives nowadays, it can often seem like you can’t escape it. You’ll find the story all over social media, covered all over the TV, splashed on the front of newspapers and magazines, and in the corner of every website you visit. This overload of often negative news can make us feel overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. While we wait for the media to become more positive in their reporting (and follow our lead), there are a few things you can do to look after your mental health during times like this.

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Unfollow and unlike

If you follow a lot of news or media outlets on social media, perhaps it’s time to start unfollowing? Or, at the very least, turning off notifications for them. If you’d still like your fix of news, but when you’re feeling a bit stronger, consider having two social media profiles. One for just your friends and family, then another where you follow news and media outlets. That way, you can simply check in on the news when you’re feeling up to it.

Switch off

We know this can be easier said than done for many, as it seems like it’s impossible to unplug from everything. However, if you can switch off devices for at least an hour a day, then you’ll give your mind some time to unwind from the constant barrage of news and updates. Use this time to do something positive for you, such as going for a walk, settling in the bath with a good book, or meditating.

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Find the positives

Not every media outlet covers all of the negative news stories all of the time. There are plenty, like us, who focus on the positive. Actively seek out positive, feel-good news stories that will make you feel good. You don’t need to go totally media blackout if you still want the tea, but look for responsible and ethical reporting instead of publications that dramatise and capitalise on shock or grief.

Talk to each other

You don’t need to feel guilty or awkward if the news is having an impact on your mental health. In fact, it’s probably a lot more common than many think, we are all just too nervous to talk to one another about it. Let’s use this time to open up conversations with our friends and family about how negative news makes us feel. Not only will it help to talk, but perhaps people will be less inclined to share negative news stories. The less shares, the less reads, the more likely the media will change.

If you are really struggling, then please do talk to someone. It can be someone anonymous, too. The Samaritans can be contacted 24/7 on 116 123 or you’ll find a list of mental health helplines and organisations here.

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