Why It’s Okay To Tune Out Bad News (plus Name Change)

Happy Friday to you!

I’ve updated my page, and I hope it looks prettier. More aesthetic. More calming.

I’ve been feeling increasingly panicked this week. Most of the time, I get anxious then get over it, but this week, it’s felt like the whole world was going into catastrophising meltdown. It’s meant to just be me!

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Everywhere I looked there was news about the epidemic (now upgraded, panic-inducingly, to pandemic). Yet I was actively reading about it every chance I got. It felt vital to be informed if the numbers in Italy had gone up. This was a worldwide crisis, and I needed to know…

But it wasn’t vital.

My panic shot through the roof on Wednesday, leaving my thoughts racing. My body was so on edge that I couldn’t sleep. The adrenaline we all produce when scared or stressed had nowhere to go, because there was nothing tangible to fear.

Unlike a real life threat, which you see with your own eyes, a news-induced panic is impossible to dispel without cutting yourself off from the source.

I had to quit, go cold turkey. Step away from the computer screen, scroll past the memes, click away from the Guardian instead of opening a million more tabs.

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need to step back. No amount of positive thinking or calming methods are going to work whilst you’re still exposed to the source. You have to get away from the source of your anguish and anxiety. This goes for news-related panics, but also for friends who aren’t good for you, hobbies that aren’t healthy anymore, family who hurt you, etc.

Listen to your emotions, and trust in them. You can try to manage them, but ultimately, you need to hear them, and do what is best for you. You can’t always over-come your emotions. You don’t always have to. It’s okay to take control and step away from what’s hurting you.

Since Wednesday, I’ve been feeling lots better. I’m already an anxious person, so my semi-pathological hand-washing has continued, but without the added COVID19 panic, just the usual amount.

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I’ve got a really short memory, so already the numbers are melting away. It feels odd to be actively stepping back from the news at a time when so many people are following it more closely than normal, but I have to do what is healthy for me. For me, following the news is more dangerous for my mental health than not following it would be for my physical health.

So if you’re feeling panicked, like I was earlier this week, remember you’re only human. We’re designed to panic when we see danger, but we’re also clever enough to communicate dangers that haven’t arrived yet. It’s genius, but it’s also dangerous to your self-preservation.

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If your system is in overdrive, remember it’s okay to disengage. Just because the danger is out there, doesn’t mean you have to pay attention to it just yet. It might be safer to pay attention to yourself and your well-being instead. You can call that shot, and your nervous system might well thank you for it.

I hope your weekend goes well, and that your plans go ahead. In this turbulent and tricky time, it’s important to stay safe, protect yourself, and be kind to each other.

Thanks for reading.

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