Overhead view of a woman sitting in front of a laptop holding her head in her hands, closing her eyes out of stress.

Managing Stress When Current Events Are Chaotic

by | Jul 17, 2023

Use these 3 strategies to keep stress and anxiety under control when the news has you spinning

As therapists, stress is a constant factor affecting our clients and treatment. One topic that frequently creates stress is current events. While normal life stresses such as work concerns, parenting, and relationships can already create havoc, trying to keep anxious thoughts and feelings under control when the outside world seems unpredictable or dangerous can be even more difficult.

Media of all types has a clear interest in ensuring you feel something when consuming its content – including social media. Think of local TV news asking ominous questions like: “What could be lurking in your water supply? Tune in tonight at 10 for more!” It’s easy to see why advertisements like this or intense posts on social media can affect our mood and outlook on the world – it’s scary to think something dangerous may be in the water supply!

With news alerts and social media feeds continuing to allow us to see the gritty reality of issues like politics, war, or hunger, it’s hard to know what to do, how to help, or even how to stop focusing on problems for a while so you can mentally recover. Giving yourself time to recharge can help ensure you manage the anxiety and feelings of powerlessness that can accompany while staying engaged with the world. Let’s take a look:

1. Map What You Can Control

When an event, issue is making headlines, it can be natural to feel worry or stress. In these situations, it can be a good practice to reflect on your place in the world in relation to the issue.

Consider: If the issue does not affect you personally and you’re not in a position of influence or power to affect changes directly, making that fact explicit in your mind can help calm your nerves. Keeping this in mind can even help you more effectively engage in methods that actually can affect the issue you feel passionately about. You’ll spend less time worried about things that are out of your control and can use that time to find ways to help or engage in ways available to you.

2. Do What You Can

As you map what is and is not within your control, it’s likely you’ll realize that even with the most far-flung issues, there will be things that you can control and ways you can contribute. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the area of contribution may be, taking action can not only help solve the issue, but also help you manage your feelings by feeling more ownership and security in your own place in the world.

Even if you can’t solve the problem directly, being part of what you see as the solution can take care of the nagging, critical part of your mind that says “you’re not doing enough”.

3. Know (and Accept) Your Limits

Even if you find a good way to contribute to solving the issue you’re worried about, it’s important to remember you’re only one person and your ability to help is limited by definition.

Be honest with yourself about how much of any given resource (money, volunteer time, even attention!) you can commit to an issue. Giving yourself permission to set limits for your contribution, no matter the form, can help avoid the feelings of powerlessness that can come from seeing what seems like a steady barrage of problems.

Be sure to adhere to your limits as well, even when it’s hard. The key is to keep yourself able to engage with finding solutions to our larger problems without becoming so bogged down that you end up burnt out and disengaged.

Stresses from outside sources can affect anyone. Let’s talk about it. Call 319-320-7506 to schedule an appointment today.

About the Author

Headshot of Pete Campie, LMFTPete Campie, LMFT sees individuals, couples and families in Cedar Rapids, IA or online. He offers early morning or daytime appointments.





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