Stella's Place Blog

How to protect your mental health during scary world events

Scary world news can affect our mental health. The weight of current global events can cause uncertainty; you may feel fear, anxiety or a loss of control over your own life and plans. You may worry for the safety of strangers, loved ones or yourself. And if you have lived through similar events in the past, it may bring up traumatic memories.

At Stella’s Place, we are here and we understand. Know that whatever you feel is valid. Know that we care about you and your mental health. And know that you are not alone in this.

During these unsettling times, we want to share some advice to help you cope and support your loved ones during these uncertain times, as shared by our friends at Mental Health Foundation UK.

Stay informed, AND be aware of your limits

Ask yourself, “how much information and scary world news am I currently taking in? And how does it make me feel?”

If it’s having a negative effect on how you feel, try to:

  • take a short break from the news or social media
  • mute or turn off news notifications on your smartphone 
  • mute or unfollow social media accounts that are reporting on it
  • or limit your news intake to once a day
  • consider using audio only and closing images

Check in with yourself, ask “how do I feel now that I’ve had a space from the news?”

If you find that the break has helped, then try to continue:

  • to stay informed in bitesize portions
  • to take space from social media and the news when you need to
  • to pause and check in on how you feel
  • to manage your social media platform use based on how they make you feel

Be intentional in how you are consuming your news, and, as much as you can, avoid long scrolling sessions. Try to accept that, although we may want to help or change the current global and national situation, some of these things may be out of our control.

Engage with your community in a meaningful way

If the uncertainty surrounding the news is bringing about feelings of fear and isolation, remember that there are people who are feeling the exact same way right now and that there are things that we can do to tackle this.

Something you can do to tackle these feelings is to connect with your local community. This can help you to feel more empowered and connected, and less alone.

Connect with your local community by:

  • getting involved in local volunteering opportunities
  • joining a local community group or meet-up to connect with community opportunities in your area, or take part in activities you enjoy like cooking, painting or gardening
  • dropping into Stella’s Place open café for young adults ages 16-29, Monday ti Thursday, 1:00 to 5:00pm

Some of us feel better when we are connected to others. Helping others and engaging with our local community in a meaningful way can be good for our mental health. On the other hand, engaging with others can also feel scary for some of us. If this is the case for you, know that we are here for you; we can support your through our People Are Scary social anxiety program, or our online BeanBagChat app, where you can connect with a counsellor to discuss anything that’s on your mind.

When taking in or talking about world news, be mindful of how you feel during and after you stop engaging. If you feel depressed, anxious or fearful but find yourself unable to disengage, you may find it helpful to speak to a counsellor. A trained professional can help you identify signs of when you may need to disengage, and provide you with tips on how to do so.

Don’t bottle it up

When you feel overwhelmed, try to reach out for support. There are people and organizations that want to help:

  • Download our free BeanBagChat App to speak to a trusted counsellor
  • Join us at Stella’s Place for Drop-In Counselling on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 2-6pm
  • Talk to a friend, family member or your GP
  • Call Kids Help Phone at 1-(800)-668-6868
  • In Crisis, contact the Gerstein Center at (416) 929-5200
  • Contact 211 to be connected to social services and community support

You could also try to express how you are feeling through creativity. You could write in a journal, listen to an emotive song, draw or dance – whichever way that feels right for you. Try to stay with those activities for at least a few minutes to unlock their powerful effects on your well-being.

Look after your mental health

Give time and priority to activities and actions that are good for your mental health. What works will be different for each person, so tune into what is right for you. Here are a few things to get you started. Try to:

  • have a healthy sleep routine
  • bring movement into your day 
  • nourish your body and mind with healthy foods
  • spend quality time with friends, family and loved ones
  • connect with nature to help reduce stress and improve your mood

All of these can help you to feel better and to take your mind off the stress of the news cycle.

This article was originally shared by Mental Health Foundation UK. You can read the original article here.