On this page you can find some guidance on how to cope with distressing news content.
For many of us, watching and listening to the news is essential for staying up to date on current affairs. The news we consume will influence our thoughts and attitudes and impact how we feel and our outlook on life. It is normal to feel scared and overwhelmed by reports of tragedies, disasters, political instability and conflicts taking place around the world.
As the current situation unfolds in Ukraine, many of us are feeling concerned for the millions of citizens impacted. Among us, this concern is particularly deeply felt by the Ukrainian diaspora and those with relatives and friends living in Ukraine.
Through our work with young refugees; we meet some young people who have also experienced war and violence in their home countries and too, were forced to flee in search of safety.
Whether it is Ukraine, Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria or Ethiopia; people deserve to be safe wherever they are in the world, to live peacefully and free from violence and persecution.
If you find yourself personally affected and particularly upset when watching the news, we want you to know that there are ways for you to take care of yourself while trying to stay informed about current events.
Tips and guidance on ways to manage distressing news content
- Limit the amount of news coverage you consume per day
If you are receiving news notifications from different apps then aim to cut your exposure to the news by turning off notifications. You can also use the “do not disturb” setting on your phone at different periods of the day.
Also try not to watch the news at your bedtime so that it’s not the last thing on your mind before going to sleep.
- Check-in with yourself before switching on the news
Ask yourself how you are feeling before you turn on the news. If you feel that you’re in a place where hearing upsetting news might make you feel worse then consider whether its an ideal time for you to get an update.
- Talk to someone you trust
Speak to family members, friends, teachers or a trusted adult about how the news is making you feel. If you are particularly worried about something you’ve heard on the news, you can reflect on the issue with others so you’re not alone with your thoughts.
- Ask for a summary of the news
If watching and listening to the news is too overwhelming for you, try to reduce your exposure completely and ask a friend or family member to offer you a summary of what has been reported.
On the flip side, if someone you know regularly sends you the news on social media or WhatsApp, kindly let them know that you’re not in a place to consume the news and ask that they stop sending you updates for the time being and you’d rather discuss other topics with them.
- Consume news from reliable sources that you trust
Remember that not everything you read will be true so look to credible sources for reliable news and balanced perspectives.
- Don’t let the news become background noise
You might be focussed on another task whilst the television is left on a news channel - although your attention is elsewhere, you might want to consider how much you’re still being exposed to and absorbing from the reports.
- Balance the bad with the good by finding positive news stories
Remind yourself that there are other things going on in the world that can offer you hope for humanity. There are platforms which are dedicated to reporting good stories such as BBC Uplifting stories and Positive.News.
- Schedule in worry free time
Your worry-free time can be an hour per day where you immerse yourself into a task or hobby. Try not to focus on other things going on around in the outside world and on the news and use all your concentration on the activity at hand.
- Take action with others
What happens outside of our lives is beyond our control which can leave us feeling helpless about a situation. Focus on what is within your control by thinking about what actions you can take to make a change around you. This might be related to a current global issue (donating to humanitarian aid) or something in your local community (organising with your neighbours, volunteering).
- Feel your feelings
Allow yourself to feel your feelings, cry or shout and let out what you are feeling. It's okay to be moved by the new stories you're hearing.