It has only been less than two months into both the new year (2020), and the new decade, but sometimes, if feels like several months have passed already because of all the distressing world related events that have seemingly been happening one after the other, whether it be a local or international concern.
All of this, combined with the never ending stream of both helpful and harmful (fake news) information on social media might trigger what I like to call anxiety and panic due to world events. To be honest, all of this caused both my anxiety and OCD to go on hyperdrive, to the point that I had a pretty bad anxiety and panic attack during one work day and had to call my therapist in order to calm down again. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one feeling this way right now, so I thought that it would be good to share some tips that I’ve been doing in order to help my anxiety levels go down.
1.Talk to someone about it, preferably your therapist or someone you know can help you calm down.
The first thing that I did when I started feeling anxious about world related events was to talk to my therapist, and a family member I trusted who can handle me when I have anxiety and panic attacks, about it. Talking to them helped me gain perspective, reminded me of key facts, and helped me think of concrete solutions and steps that I could take action on at that very moment to help you calm down. Trust me, simply just being reminded to do something as simple as breathing exercises really helps and it goes a long way. Talking to my therapist also allowed me to realized what the root of anxiety about the particular world event was, which then in turn helped me combat it better.
2.Limit your exposure to the news
Admittedly, this was pretty hard for me to do as I felt that I needed to know every single update so that I could prepare for what was coming next. When I did this, I found myself becoming more anxious about things, and felt that every non-news piece was just the calm before the storm of unimaginable doom. As things were getting worse for me, I decided not to read the news and told people around me that I trusted to let me know information if I REALLY needed to know it. This has allowed my mind to be at more peace, and it allowed me to focus more on things that I had to that day.
3.Take a break from social media or limit your social media
More than the news, I think that the never ending updates of new information, whether it be real or fake news, on social media contributed the most to anxiety, as the information you take in never ends. Also, social media is a big breeding ground for fake news to be distributed as well, whether or not the person who shared it on their wall meant well. Taking a break from social media will also limit your exposure to these triggering topics. Again, just like the second tip, doing this allowed me to have more peace of mind, plus, whether or not there are things happening, it’s also not that great to be on social media 24/7, so if you were really planning to do a social media detox, then now’s the time to do it.
As of the moment, I have deleted both Facebook and Twitter from my phone, and for both, I only check them on my computer, or I visit very specific pages. For Twitter, I now have a small habit of covering the trends part of my screen so that I don’t see it at all, and I just go to specific accounts as well. As of the moment, I only have Instagram, but its carefully curated, as is my feed on YouTube.
Also, in the beginning, as going to social media and aimlessly scrolling is a habit for most of us, one of the things that helped me was to create a list of things that I could do instead of going to social media, and having those alternatives on hand really helped me break that habit.
4.Combat fear and fake news with knowledge
Aside from people talking about the latest updates and the news around you (which you really can’t stop them from doing), one of the biggest things that contributes to anxiety levels are rumors and fake news posts, especially when people talk about them believing it as a fact. The best way to combat this is to know the basic facts of the current situation, and you also ask them about their sources. Knowing just the main facts about things has helped me a lot, and when I’m starting to get scared and anxious, I kind of repeat those facts to myself, almost like a mantra, and it helps me to calm down.
5.Make a list of things you are looking forward to today, tomorrow, and the current month you are at.
There were moments in the past month in which I felt helpless and hopeless, and I felt like every day would bring something worse. During those moments, there was one thing that really helped me out- making a list of things that I’m excited about for the day, for tomorrow, and for the month I’m currently at. It doesn’t need to be a super profound list, it could be just as simple, like I’m looking forward to meeting up with my friend today, or I’m looking forward to watching an episode of a TV show that I like, or I’m looking forward to a particular event that I’m going to during the month.
As simple and as mundane as it seems, it helps give you a reason to wake up the next day and to get through the day as well, and this has really helped me a lot. Having this list and looking at it during the day helps me focus more on what I have to do, and it helps me focus being more present during that day. This is actually a modified version of a tip that I heard from Tablo of the Korean Hip Hop group Epik High. He shared this tip during one of his podcasts (The Tablo Podcast) last year, but for him, when he was experiencing depression, he came up with a list of things, no matter how simple or mundane they were, that were his reasons for waking up the next day. Trust me, doing this list really helps.
BONUS: Self-Care & Prayer
One of the things that I actually made an effort to do more was to take care of myself physically. Taking care of myself and keeping myself healthy made sure that I didn’t totally spiral out of control, and it also allowed me to be less sickly as well, because I knew that my excessive worrying could potentially cause me to actually get sick. But this is another thing that kept me sane. Surprisingly, I also decided to make the switch to decaf coffee and drinking tea more often, and I found that I’m actually more awake now than before.
And yes, for me, prayer really did help, and in fact, it helped my relationship with God a lot. I talked to Him more often, shared my fears and worries with Him, and I prayed a lot to Him about things that I have no control over. One of the reasons I get such bad anxiety is due to the fact that I have no control over big things like natural disasters or world events, and praying to Him not only gives me reassurance, but I know that He is the only one who actually can control things from happening..all of that helped me calm down a lot more. Also, instead of excessively worrying about things, I ended up coming up with a list of things to pray about that’s relevant to situations that are happening, and after doing so, I feel a lot better as well.
Those are my tips for fighting anxiety due to world related events. These tips helped me a lot, and I still revisit them every now and then, especially when I’m feeling a little bit more anxious than usual. I hope that this list can help you out as well.
Now, my question for you is this- Do you have any other tips and tricks in dealing with anxiety due to world related events? What do you do? Let me know in the comments below!