The ceaseless negative news cycle can interfere with emotional well-being when your need to stay informed becomes obsessing over the news, and you are not alone.
Our hearts scream for the victims of war and natural disasters. As we try to reconcile the shocking effects of prolonged military campaigns, we ripple with the waves of turmoil from natural disasters and climate upheaval. It builds inside us and projects outward around the world.
We feel conflicting emotions and an almost impulsive desire to continuously check the updates about the most recent media focal point. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder what else will be affected.
Here are 11 tiny signs you’re way more stressed out than you even realize:
1. Excessive worrying
You feel like you can’t turn the worry off, or you’re trying to hold it in your mind to work through it.
2. Feeling easily agitated
You notice that you’re quick to anger or snap.
You pace and tap your fingers or feet. You can’t calm your body or slow down.
4. Feeling overly tired
You find yourself wanting to sleep more or feeling too tired to do the things that typically help you feel good and move throughout the day.
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5. Difficulty concentrating
You have a hard time getting or staying focused on important tasks.
You’re on edge for no apparent reason.
7. Tense muscles
You notice your shoulders are scrunched, your jaw clenched, your forehead furrowed, and your chest, stomach, or back feeling tight.
8. Trouble falling or staying asleep
You feel insomnia-like symptoms, maybe accompanied by racing thoughts.
9. Panic attacks
You have a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there’s no real danger or apparent cause.
10. Avoiding social situations
You choose to stay home or isolated or avoid your typical social connections.
11. Irrational fears
You’re scared of things that haven’t happened and probably won’t happen.
If you can relate to these feelings, remember that most of them are normal reactions to stress.
Here are 14 ways to manage stress and anxiety during difficult times:
1. Eat a healthy diet.
Fueling your body with well-rounded nutritious foods will help balance your gut, body, and mind from the inside out.
2. Limit caffeine.
Too much caffeine can be linked to jitters, which in turn can exacerbate anxiety.
3. Avoid alcohol.
As a depressant with anxiety as a common after-effect, alcohol is not a helpful coping strategy, often leading to disrupted sleep and a myriad of other negative coping behaviors.
This is a natural way to boost your happiness hormones, which are linked to promoting other healthy habits.
5. Meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.
Many apps can help help calm your body and mind.
Practicing breathing in, to the count of 4 and out, to the count of 4, 5 times as needed can help calm your central nervous system.
There are many other helpful breathwork strategies available to teach yourself online.
7. Take part in your hobbies.
Stay positively engaged in what you enjoy. It could be exercise, art, nature, or anything else that is a healthy part of your weekly routine.
8. Get proper sleep.
Turn off your screens, dim the lights, and find a nice bedtime routine to stick to each night to aim for at least 8 hours of sleep.
9. Create positive socialization.
Connection and time with friends are so important.
10. Keep a journal.
Journaling uses both the right and left sides of the brain as an exercise to externalize your thoughts.
11. Practice self-care.
Read, make a cup of tea, or take a bath. These are simple ways of showing yourself love.
12. Watch a show or movie that feels happy.
Stick to light content that leaves you feeling good.
13. Do something nice for someone, just because.
Acts of kindness help you feel happy and effective.
14. Consider offering support in a way that’s meaningful to you.
Whether you donate money or get involved through service, offering aid to alleviate the crisis can help you feel like you have some influence positively.
How do you manage stress and anxiety during difficult times?
This is a great time to set your appropriate boundary around the flood of information coming at you from all angles.
Try to choose a specific time to watch one newscast or check your news sources rather than scrolling at random hours of the day, triggered by boredom, anxiety, or habit.
The news can be emotionally taxing. It’s completely normal to experience stress, sadness, and anxiety. These are common reactions when things around us are out of our control.
It’s the body’s way of telling you something is threatening or dangerous.
1. Anxiety is a product of fear or constant worry over something.
Fear shows up when you’re afraid of someone or something that’s likely dangerous, painful, or threatening. So, this is an expected emotional response to what is happening in Ukraine.
It’s important to remember that these feelings of distress, however they show up for you, are normal.
2. Everyone reacts to stressful situations differently.
Some people may not seem anxious or stressed at all — or they might be trying to hide it. Hiding your emotions doesn’t typically work out in the long run, as they often resurface unexpectedly.
When you feel like things are out of control, step back, take a deep breath, and find things within your control.
In the mental health field, there’s a noticeable increase in anxiety and depression. When you’re under stress, your body goes back to how you handled stressful situations in the past.
3. If you’ve experienced anxiety or depression in the past, you’re more likely to have it show up again during these stressful times.
During these fraught times, making connections is so important. Supportive people help you feel grounded in the present with a phone or video call. Or, if you can, meet someone in person.
Moderate how you use social media to feel connected. Too much time spent in that space can have the reverse effect with intrusive images and headlines.
4. Take some time to create a list of coping skills that are meaningful and helpful to you.
Keep it or post it somewhere accessible to call upon a helpful alternative behavior in times of need.
Having the list handy increases the likelihood that you will use it to help you shift from the increasing build-up of anxiety or distress.
Engaging in activities that help you feel good can give you a physiological boost to help curb worry and anxiety.
5. Focus on appreciating the present and what good is in front of you today, in the here and now.
Remember you can reach out for professional support any time if your experience tips beyond what you can self-manage, or you find yourself in distress.
You’re not alone.
Julie Mayer Norvilas, LMFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist dedicated to helping cultivate healthy relationships.