Today's headlines are violent and sad to read. Many of us read news on our phones all day long and notice that most of it is bad news. The question is; how can you maintain equanimity as you take in all these stories?
As I see it there are two options: protect yourself from it or do something! The first option, I can tell you, does wonders for your emotional wellbeing. Coming from a Waldorf upbringing, I grew up with no TV and no computer and I was not allowed to read the newspaper. My world was small but my happiness levels were much higher than they would have been. But opponents of the Waldorf philosophy would say that this is a callous way of shutting out the world. Now that we have the internet and social media platforms at our fingertips, the world really is a close-knit community. So I would say that blocking yourself off from bad news is effective but not advisable unless you are still a young child.
Another way to protect yourself from the media stories of violence and cruelty is to set up mechanisms to take your mind off of it all. For example, going for a walk in nature noticeably lowers blood pressure and brings events into perspective. Exercise, even indoors, also helps to create some sense of sanity in a world gone crazy. And lastly, art can calm you down. This can be seen in the new trend of adult coloring books. Or if you prefer not to color, try another form of art such as poetry.
It is not advisable to read news articles or watch news videos at all hours of the day, as much as it seems impossible not to do so. This is why I would advise to read the news only at midday. If you read it in the morning, you will start your workday upset. If you read it in the evening, you will go to bed angry or depressed and spend a sleepless night worrying or worse; have nightmares. If you wish to protect yourself from the bombardment of negative media, then limit yourself to only a few minutes of the day watching it.
This brings us to the other option, which is to take action and do something. Many news stories we hear originate in other countries and we have no way to effect change in those regions. Other news covers large-scale problems like global climate change which seem like insurmountable issues. But sometimes there are small things one can do to make a difference, whether it's donating money or writing a sympathy letter to grieving parents. Sometimes it is possible to organize a protest or a bake-sale to help those in need. But so often the news covers deaths which cannot be made right again.
If you are struggling with how to account for grief and injustice and these small ways of helping seem almost foolish against the backdrop of such hardship, you are not alone. But take comfort in the fact that these emotions are natural and good. Those who can read and watch the news without feeling incredible sadness have learned to desensitize or have seen too much personal hardship to have room left for more emotions. So do not try to push your emotions aside or worry that they are unhealthy, because empathy and sympathy are human traits which help to make us better at interacting as a community.
My thanks to Michele Ritan for the idea for this article, and I hope it was helpful.
P.S. Try watching a puppy or kitten video before bed.