Coping with Bad World News – Youth Sharing from Lesley

This article is part of a series on “Coping with Bad World News”, where we interviewed youth on their personal tips to look after their wellbeing.

Today’s interview is with Lesley Yuen, a current Psychology student at Lancaster University.

For more information on this topic, check out our resource on “Coping with Bad World News” here.

How can bad world news affect our mental health and why is this topic important? 

In the digital age, our society is flooded with news and information about the world. With the constant news intake from media and people, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed without noticing; unfortunately, the news is rarely positive. Images and titles in news can often be upsetting and exaggerated which trigger our negative emotions. When we experience stressful stimuli, our body reacts by releasing stress hormones, resulting in bodily symptoms, such as palpitation, headache or sweating. It would not be a major problem if you experience stress occasionally; however, if you are exposed to long-term stressors, it can affect your daily functioning, for instance, disturbed sleeping patterns and inability to focus. A study has shown that reading bad world news can be emotionally disturbing and result in post-traumatic stress symptoms. Thus, bad world news can significantly impact our mental health and quality of life. However, many people are unaware of the negative influence of regular news intake which results in an inability to break free from the negative mood or emotions. Therefore, it is important to talk about the possible adverse impact of reading bad world news to raise awareness of the issue, especially during the global crisis. It is essential to also take breaks from the media when needed and manage the time spent on reading the news.

What are your personal tips on coping with bad world news that you want to share with other youth? 

When I find myself getting addicted to constant news monitoring, having a digital detox day is really helpful for me to cope and take a break. During the digital detox day, I will not use social media or watch news on TV unless it is absolutely necessary. Instead, I will spend time going for a walk or exercising to keep my physical body and mind healthy. I usually have the digital detox day once a month to reset and take breaks from information and news intake. It is even more beneficial if it can be done once a fortnight. Another really useful method I have used to cope with bad world news is journaling. For me, daily journaling is a way to declutter my mind and recognize the emotions that I have been ignoring throughout the day. Since it is easy to miss out on the negative emotions triggered by reading bad news, recognizing and identifying them can prevent them from building up. I usually write my journal before bed because it is a time when I can wind down and not be distracted. There are times when I am just too tired or lazy to write my journal. Therefore, placing your journal near your bed or somewhere that is easily accessible can give you the motivation to do it. The final tip I have for coping with bad world news is to do something you love. I personally love watching movies, especially in theatre. When I am watching movies, I feel the world around me has stopped and all I have to do is to enjoy the moment. It is easy to have worries, anxiety or ruminative thoughts after we encounter bad world news. Therefore, taking time to live in the moment by doing something we enjoy helps us to recover from stressful situations. We deserve to do things that we enjoy during challenging times.