It’s a bright sunny morning. You make yourself a hot cup of coffee, grab the newspaper and pick your favorite spot – eager to kick off your day. The first sip of your morning coffee feels like heaven! Then you read the Newspaper and get flooded with the cruelties around the globe. On some days it truly feels like the world is falling apart, it becomes harder to see the possibility of a bright future and a sense of overwhelming helplessness creeps in.
With numerous mediums reporting news round the clock it doesn’t get any easier. We have information readily available at our fingertips, be it our smartphones and television or social media platforms. It has gotten increasingly difficult to not think about what is wrong in the world today than what is right. As human beings, it is our innate need to be curious and spread the word. No doubt being informed about current affairs is extremely important but the overdose of it is what is harmful. Our society today is becoming more angry, violent, aggressive, competitive and greedy. Human beings are committing such heinous crimes, a lot of them are just senseless acts of inhumanity. It is these senseless acts which are the most difficult to fathom.
What do experts have to say?
Psychologist says constant exposure to disturbing negative news is detrimental to our mental health and overall well-being. Being in an environment where topics like crime, sexual abuse, political issues, warfare, suicides, natural disasters, and injustice are everyday occurrences – it has a deep psychological and emotional impact on us. They make us feel unsafe, anxious, doubtful, angry, depressed, helpless and scared for our lives. There are graphic visuals which cannot be unseen, sounds we cannot block and stories which shook us from the core. It unknowingly makes us imagine the worst, creates a sense of panic and division since we become distrustful of people around us. A life where we are constantly watching over our shoulders becomes stressful.
Graham C. L. Davey, Ph.D. – Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex, conducted a study on the effects of negative news on society. They constructed 3 news bulletins. The first bulletin was made entirely of negative news, the second bulletin was made from only positive news and the third was emotionally neutral. They showed these bulletins to 3 different groups and found that the people who watched the negative news bulletin were found to be more worrisome and anxious. They were more likely to catastrophize their worries. Catastrophizing is when you think about a worry so persistently that you begin to make it seem much worse than it was at the outset and much worse than it is in reality.
One of the other side-effects is also that it desensitizes people in a way, where they do not feel enough empathy, can easily dismiss it and move on with their lives. It makes it okay for other people to suffer as long as it is not happening to them. They just follow the norm of feeling sadness for a moment, sharing the news on social media, offering prayers, feeling lucky it’s not them and forget about it the next day.
Here are 5 Tips to maintain your Sanctity:
1. Limit your exposure
Maintain a healthy balance of the good and the bad. Do not brainwash yourself with negative news as it will only induce negative emotions. Take a break from social media and smartphones every day for some time so that you can avoid constant revision of disturbing facts. Use your time more wisely, in more productive ways and focus on self-development. Spend quality time with your loved ones, indulge in a hobby, go for a walk, read a book or indulge in any activity which keeps you away from any devices.
2. Be Selective about your content
Choose to also focus on positive happenings around the world. It serves as a reminder that there are good things happening around us too. Be selective about the pages, groups, and people you follow on social media. Make wise decisions and feed your brain with thought-provoking and mindful content which can also educate you about contributing to society to bring about a change.
3. Start with yourself
Resolve to do better yourself first and not wait or rely on the next person to bring about a change. You can engage in charity, visiting an old age home, help the less fortunate in need, share optimistic stories on social media or something as simple as being there for a loved one. This inculcates a sense of purpose and well-being.
“It’s common to feel guilty when our lives are going well, and we see so much devastation around us, one reason this occurs is because we feel out of control and wish we could help. If we can continue to engage in activities that create positive energy for us, we can, in turn, give that positive energy back to the world around us.” Ali Dixon said a counselor who practices at the Anxiety & Stress Management Institute in Atlanta
4. Seep Spirituality
Psychologists have time and again stressed on the positive effects spirituality has on human beings. It is known to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and offers answers which provide us with some semblance and meaning to our lives. It helps you find a rhythm and a stable ground amidst all the chaos and uncertainty. You are instilled with hope and it restores your faith that things can be repaired, which brings a positive change in you and the people in your life.
Exercise has innumerable benefits and it is a known fact that it aids physical fitness along with mental health. It makes you fitter and healthier and has a psychological effect that you are strong enough to handle the problems in your life. It releases endorphins which are also known as the happy hormones, as they help produce positive feelings. It changes the parts of your brain which cause stress and anxiety.
We can begin by making small changes in our lives. If you feel saddened by the corruption in our society, make sure you do not part take in any such activities in your personal life and encourage your loved ones to follow the lead. If the poverty in India disturbs you, start by helping the needy in your own way. If you care about the environment, resolve to keep your immediate surroundings clean.
Mother Terresa wisely said “I alone cannot change the world, but I cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”