RECENT TRAGEDIES in the UK have dominated the headlines worldwide in the last few weeks.
The two London terror attacks, the Manchester suicide bombing followed by the horrific scenes from the Grenfell Tower fire has left us reeling in the wake of other people’s grief.
When tragic events continue to dominate the news, it can cause us to feel overwhelmed, distressed or pessimistic about the future.
While many follow every aspect of these stories in support of those affected, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact this is having on our own emotional health.
Dr Mark Williamson, director of Action For Happiness, talking to HuffPost UK, stressed that maintaining good mental wellbeing through tragedy isn’t about turning a blind eye to the news, but learning how to navigate it.
Practising self-care is not only essential to carrying on with your everyday life, but is also vital if you want to be an active citizen and lend your support to those in need.
It’s natural to feel upset when others are hit by tragedy, but there are steps we can take to improve our own emotional wellbeing through such hard times.
while it is important to stay informed and do whatever we can to help, it’s also important not to let ourselves become consumed and overwhelmed by distressing news.
Cut down access to technology
The more time people spent watching the news or ‘living in the television world,’ the more likely they were to think of the world as an intimidating and unforgiving place, harbouring more fear and anxiety about the world around them.
Today, our phones and social media keep us connected to a live stream of tragedies as they unfold and it can be much harder to maintain healthy boundaries and take time out from emotionally overwhelming news when we need.
Constant connections to social media and news can keep people feeling like they are well informed and connected to the world at large and a part of a bigger community.
However, you only ever get a certain version of events as reported in any media, which leads to a false sense of knowledge or understanding
We think about these negative events more, talk about them more and pay more attention to them, which is very physically and emotionally draining.
Keep a balance
Positive news can be found among tragedy, such as stories of how strangers have helped one another.
To combat the impact of reading sad news, Dr Thomas recommended “seeking out stories of people’s resilience and connectedness after reading distressing headlines, which can help soothe the threat system”.
She also pointed out the importance of staying connected to loved ones in real life and consciously limiting the time you spend reading news and social media, to foster more positive feelings.
Iit’s “vital that we keep a balanced perspective,” when tragedy hits the news.
“Yes lots of terrible and sad things happen, but the world is full of so many good things too – from major scientific breakthroughs to the incalculable number of small acts of kindness which happen each and every day,” he said.
“Coping effectively isn’t about naively pretending things are all fine when they’re not. But dwelling excessively on negative news isn’t healthy, especially for events that we have no control over.
“The best approach is to be a rational optimist – by accepting how things really are, but remembering to stay hopeful and to also notice the ways that things can – and do – get better.”