Coping with The News

Do you get that over-whelming feeling of defeat and hopelessness when reading, watching or hearing the news?
You’re not alone of course and with the re-launch of The Totnes Pulse, this very publication might well add to those woes.  All the coverage of wars, financial crises, government decisions can have an ongoing downward grind upon our own wellbeing. So what can be done about it?A lot of the helpless feelings can be generated by being exactly that: helpless. A very reasonable mechanism for coping is to fully accept that there is, very often absolutely nothing you can personally do about a news story. In these cases, there is no guilt in detaching oneself emotionally from a situation and taking the position of an interest in events whilst accepting there is no action you can take to improve matters. Empathising is a natural response, however with many situations, this will only affect you personally.

Successful local projects can have far reaching effects

If this is becoming a problem for you, try writing a list of the things you can control and of the things you can’t. Take time to recognise that your day to day life is not actually being affected by these news events and allow yourself to be distracted from anything you can’t control.

Switch it off!

It’s in the interest of news companies to keep you engaged as much as possible. You’ll have noticed that “Breaking News” is now a constant on TV and Internet channels even if it’s to tell you that Nadine Dorries has lost her cat! Try muting notifications if you have them alerting you. The drip drip effect of alerts can have a detrimental affect on your psyche. Set limits on how much news you’re absorbing. Make yourself aware of doomscrolling.

Go Factual and relevant.

Be aware that ALL news sources have their own opinions and agendas. No news presentation wants to be boring and will therefore be prone to sensationalise stories in order to get your attention. Some high profile news has no basis in fact whatsoever. Freddie Star never ate anyones hamster.

Be aware of the wording of an article pushing you into forming an opinion that you are being co-erced into by the writer.

For example this is a section of a piece in the Telegraph published on 12th October:

Undecided voters prefer Rishi Sunak to “weak” Sir Keir Starmer – but are still more inclined to vote Labour at the next general election, a focus group has suggested. The JL Partners polling firm spoke to those who are yet to make up their minds in Wimbledon, Rother Valley and Filton and Bradley Stoke, three Conservative-held constituencies. Those surveyed said Sir Keir was “weak”, “drab” and “vanilla” and preferred Mr Sunak, who they thought performed better during the course of both parties’ recent conferences.

This one paragraph taken at the time of writing this article which is presented as news, has a series of perjorative and qualifying adjectives to push the reader into taking a specific view. In reality, this bit of writing has no news value whatsoever. JL Partners have gone out onto the streets in Tory constituencies to ask random people what they think. Hardly news, any more than Donald Trump claiming “People say…

Take Action

Earlier this piece mentioned things we have no control over. One very empowering thing we can all do is to get involved. The term “act local go global” references that taking positive action in your own space can have very real repercussions much further afield. Our own Transition Town Totnes is now a national movement. Riverford is also a strong example of a successful business based on positive principles. Successful local projects can have far reaching effects for others and hugely boost personal wellbeing. Giving even a small amount of time to a local group such as Bob the Bus, Totnes Caring, Stepping Stones Foodbank or helping out at a charity shop. Also joining local groups that address local issues and problems that concern you, can help provide moral support to all involved and result in a positive outcome.

Finally, never be afraid to ask for help. Feelings of helplessness, doom and gloom and depression can happen to all of us and the stigma of not coping, must not be allowed to prevent anyone seeking help.

Good help and information can be found online at Mind,

contact your own GP.

Local Help from Totnes Therapy,

or the Mental Health Team at Leatside

…also the Community of St Antony & St Elias







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