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Ways to cope with upsetting events in the news

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or sad about the world news, including the situation in Ukraine at the moment, know that you’re definitely not alone. Here are some ideas for actions we can take to help us cope better through times like this.

Know that it’s normal to be upset

Lots of us are feeling upset, anxious, helpless, stressed, sad or angry about the news. You’re not alone with these feelings and it’s important to remember that it’s perfectly understandable and okay to feel this way.

Manage your social media usage

24-hour rolling news and social media can make it difficult to switch off from current affairs and to put them in perspective. News coverage and social posts, as well as conversations your friends and family might be having about news might be dramatic and upsetting. It can be easy to imagine lots of possible scenarios resulting from world events but it's important to focus just on what's happening now. Imagining the worst doesn't help us to manage our feelings.

It’s also important to remember that the reason the news about the war in Ukraine is on TV and our social media feeds so much at the moment is because it’s such a rare event. This sort of situation doesn’t happen all the time, or even often at all.

Be aware of the amount of news and information you’re consuming, and make sure it’s coming from trusted, reliable sources

You may want to stay informed, but you can take breaks from watching or reading the news. You might want to set aside a certain time of the day when you will look at the news and ideally have a couple trusted reliable news sources that you check for information. If you’re finding that your entire social media feed is full of videos and images of distressing news, try limiting the time you spend looking at it or take a complete break for a day or so.

Talk about how you feel

Speak to friends, family, teachers, or other trusted adults about how you’re feeling about the news to help lighten the intensity and feelings of being overwhelmed.

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Balance negative thoughts with positive actions

Do something that makes you feel good, like watching your favourite movie, or reading your favourite book, to balance negative thoughts. This can particularly help before bedtime, if you’re struggling to sleep.

Take action

Feeling helpless about a situation can be stressful. There are little steps we can take to give us the feeling that we have some control, and can do something to help.

If you can, you could donate to causes that are supporting people in countries experiencing war, such as Ukraine, fundraise for a charity raising money for the cause or volunteer with a local charity that’s working to help those in areas of humanitarian need.

If you’re over 18 and think you could help be there for people who are struggling to cope, could you consider becoming a Shout Volunteer? Sometimes being there for others can help us manage our own anxiety, and can add extra meaning and fulfilment to our everyday lives. Find out more about volunteering here.